Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that now, “insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing disability,” and added that he was “sorry to say that a Party has chosen to stand on the sidelines.”

The next phase for this legislation is reconciliation, before it goes to President Obama to sign into law. There is a great deal that can happen in this phase, and McConnell vowed that his party will try to squash the legislation before it does indeed become law.

How this will affect wealth managers’ clients will not be certain until this final phase is over, but surely there will be a mandate for more companies to offer health insurance employees, more Americans will be covered, and some safeguards such as disallowing insurance companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing health conditions will likely be included. How it will work in practice remains to be seen–for instance, if you are not denied care because of a pre-existing condition but the premiums are so high as to be prohibitive, as they have been for some in COBRA coverage (pre-subsidy), then what good will that be in practice?

But this may be a historic first step on a long road that will at the very least bring big changes to social policy in this country.

Comments? Please send them to kmcbride@wealthmanagerweb.com. Kate McBride is editor in chief of Wealth Manager and a member of The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard.