Congress Completes Overhaul of Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democratic-controlled Congress has completed an overhaul of the nation's health care system.

The House voted 220-207 tonight for legislation making changes to the law President Barack Obama signed on Tuesday. Earlier, the Senate approved the measure. Both votes were nearly along party lines.

The legislation includes better benefits for seniors and low-income and middle-class families.

Taken together, the two bills also aim to crack down on insurance industry abuses, and to reduce federal deficits by an estimated $143 billion over a decade. Most Americans would be required to buy insurance for the first time, and face penalties if they refused.

The second of the two bills also eliminates banks and other private lenders as middlemen for student loans in favor of a system of direct government lending. That cuts out fees.

Obama is expected to sign the legislation early next week.

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