Today, at 11:15 AM EDT, President Obama will sign the HR 3590, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” making the bill law. Politically, it will be billed as a big win for the President, who has spent over a year trying to get a health care insurance reform bill passed. This moment could possibly go down as one of this presidency's biggest accomplishments.
Soon after the bill is signed into law, the Senate will begin consideration on HR 4872, the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act” (at 2:15 PM). This reconciliation bill contains some “fixes” to the health care bill, as well as student loan reform. Because reconciliation bills have a set debate time, they can't be filibustered, requiring only the constitutional simple majority for passage. The consideration of the reconciliation bill is expected to take the Senate about a week.
This reconciliation bill might be the last chance for Democrats to deal with looming, politically damaging problems caused by the inclusion of an individual mandate, enforced by the IRS, which forces people to buy private insurance. Reconciliation could be used to strip the individual mandate out of the new law, or it can be used to add a public alternative, which makes the individual mandate significantly less unpopular. Foolish Democrats in the Senate seem dead set against dealing with what will likely be a toxic issue for them in November.