“The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see”. So said President Barack Obama as he put pen to paper, turning healthcare reform plans across the pond into law.

The signing at the White House took place two days after the House of Representatives voted 219-212 to approve the president’s $940 billion, 10-year plan and he said at an event after the signing ceremony held at the Department of Interior that “after a century of striving, after a year of debate, after a historic vote, health care reform is no longer an unmet promise. It is the law of the land”.

The Senate is now expected to pass the modified parts of the bill as Democrats believe they have enough support to get the 51 votes needed. However their Republican rivals are already laying plans to scupper the reforms.

President Obama went on to say that “those fighting change are still out there, still making a lot of noise about what this reform means” and urged Americans people “to understand it and look it up for yourself”. He added that “I heard one of the Republican leaders say this was going to be Armageddon. Well, two months from now, six months from now, you can check it out. We’ll look around and we’ll see".

Observers believe there is still a lot to do to convince people in the USA of the reforms and actually explain them. This will prove to be difficult in an environment which has already seen 14 states file suits in federal court to challenge the hours-old law but the US Justice Department issued a statement saying it will “vigorously defend” the new legislation, saying it is “confident that this statute is constitutional”.

Republicans are already making repeal a key theme for the mid-term elections to be held in November. However, Obama will be hoping that measures of the healthcare bill that take effect right away, eg helping pensioners who fall in the coverage gap known as the ‘doughnut hole’ to get access to prescription drugs, preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions and providing tax credits for small businesses to help them cover insurance costs, will impress the electorate.

The president said that “what works in our system won’t change”, adding that “these reforms won’t give the government more control over your health care” and “they certainly won’t give the insurance companies more control over your health care. These reforms give you more control over your health care”.

Obama stated that “the other changes I’m signing into law will take several years to implement fully, but that’s because this is a difficult, complex issue and we want to get it right”. The unsurprisingly jubilant president concluded by saying that signing the bill shows “it’s still possible to rise above the scepticism, to rise above the cynicism”.