Health Care Bills

A health care bill is is a proposed law on the subject of health care, that ultimately determines health care policy in the United States.  

How a Health Care Bill Becomes a Law

A health care bill, like any bill in the United States, has to pass through the two chambers of the United State’s Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate, before getting to the president who decides whether it will become a law.

A bill starts out as an idea. If someone wants their idea to become a bill that has the potential to become a law, they need to contact their congressperson who can introduce the bill to Congress. Anyone can draft and propose a bill but only members of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) can introduce it to legislation.

Once an idea becomes a bill that gets to Capitol Hill (a metonym for the United States Congress) it may sit in committee for a long time while Congress discusses and debates whether it should become a law. Before Congress introduces a bill, a member researches and collects facts about the bill. They typically send draft versions to different organizations that are knowledgeable and/or relevant to the bill for their input on how it will affect the organizations’ members.

The majority of bills do not get this far but if one does, it gets passed on to the House of Representatives for a vote. If the House of Representatives votes in favor of a bill, it is passed on to the Senate where this whole process starts all over again. If the Senate votes for a bill it is passed on to the White House where it waits with lots of other bills for the president to sign for it to become a law. If the president signs, the bill becomes a law.

If the president is presented with a bill and does not take action on it for 10 days while Congress is in session, the bill automatically becomes a law.

If the whole Congress votes in favor of a bill but the president vetos it, Congress can override the veto with a ⅔ vote. If Congress does not override a veto by the president, a bill is sent back to Congress to be debated about and discussed again. This is such a long and tedious process that bills that are vetoed by the president rarely become laws.

How to Help

There are limited opportunities for individuals to make their voices a part of the legislative process. The lack of support for a bill during its long a tedious journey to become a law is often the reason why it dies. You can get involved in organizations who have an influence on Congress when it comes to health care legislation. Being informed and involved as much as you can be in the legislative process is a good way for private citizens to be involved in health care law and reform.

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