ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AFP) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ President Barack Obama on Tuesday put the final capstone on his landmark health reform legislation, signing a final, adjusted version of the bill, into law.
Obama chose to highlight an overshadowed measure included in the new law, which overhauls student loan financing in a fundamental reform which forms a central plank of his education policy.
“Today we mark an important milestone on the road to health-insurance reform and higher-education reform,” Obama said at a ceremony in Northern Virginia, a week after he signed an initial version of the health bill into law.
“But more broadly, this day affirms our ability to overcome the challenges of our politics and meet the challenges of our time.”
The event ended more than a year of intense political battles in Washington over the health bill, which insures an extra 32 million Americans and regulates the insurance industry and passed Congress without a single Republican vote.
But the political row over health care is only intensifying, as Obama and his Republican foes fight to define the politically contentious bill for voters, ahead of crucial mid-term congressional elections in November.
The bill Obama signed on Tuesday was the product of an intricate procedural agreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate, which paved the way for passage, despite Republican opposition.
The changes to the health bill include adjustments to federal programs covering the elderly and the poor.
The new law also cuts government funding for private student loans, expands direct government lending, and uses billions of dollars in predicted savings to give out grants to poor students.
The independent Congressional Budget Office said the measure would save roughly 61 billion dollars over 10 years.
Tuesday’s event took place at a college in Northern Virginia, outside Washington, where Vice President Joe Biden’s wife Jill, works as an instructor.