President Obama won a historic victory in the struggle for health care reform Sunday as the House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill overhauling the American medical system.

The bill passed in a 219-212 vote after more than a year of bitter partisan debate. All 178 Republicans opposed it, along with 34 Democrats.

The measure, which cleared the Senate in December, will now go to Obama’s desk to be signed into law. It constitutes the biggest expansion of federal health care guarantees since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid more than four decades ago.

A separate compromise package of changes expanding the reach of the measure was passed by the House after its vote on the Senate bill. That reconcilation bill will advance to the Senate.

The overall $940 billion plan is projected to extend insurance coverage to roughly 32 million additional Americans. It represents a significant step towards the goal of universal coverage sought by every Democratic president since Harry Truman

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