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Obama signs historic $938 billion health overhaul

WASHINGTON – A broadly smiling President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed a historic $938 billion health care overhaul that guarantees coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans and will touch nearly every citizen’s life, presiding over the biggest shift in U.S. domestic policy since the 1960s and capping a divisive, yearlong debate that could define the November elections.

Celebrating “a new season in America” – the biggest accomplishment of his White House and one denied to a line of presidents before him – Obama made the massive bill law with an East Room signing ceremony. He was joined by jubilant House and Senate Democrats as well as lesser-known people whose health care struggles have touched the president. Obama scheduled back-to-back events to mark the moment, with much of his White House audience, as well as hundreds of others, heading to the Interior Department immediately after the signing.

“Today after almost a century of trial, today after over a year of debate, today after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. Today,” Obama said, interrupted by applause after nearly every sentence. “All of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama has signed the $938 billion health care overhaul that guarantees coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans and represents the biggest accomplishment of his presidency.

The new law will be the main issue in this fall’s midterm elections. Obama signed the bill at an elaborate ceremony Tuesday in the East Room of the White House, to be followed by an even larger celebration at an Interior Department auditorium.

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