AMERICA, Nov 8 – The US House of Representatives has backed a healthcare bill in a step towards reforms promised by President Obama, despite strong opposition.
Passed in a narrow 220-215 vote, the bill aims to extend coverage to 36 million more Americans and provide affordable healthcare to 96%.
The bill now has to be reconciled with a separate Senate draft law.
President Obama has made reform of America’s healthcare system a central plank of his domestic agenda.
Before Saturday’s vote, Mr Obama made a rare visit to Congress to try to persuade wavering members of his own Democratic Party to back the bill.
He said such opportunities came around "maybe once in a generation".
The bill would allow the government to sell insurance in competition with private companies and make insurers offer cover to those with pre-existing conditions.
But this so-called "public option" had been scaled back in the wrangling that preceded the House vote.