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US House Passes Bill to Change Health Law

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to weaken a core part of the country's new health care law, garnering the support of the Republican majority as well as some members from the president's own Democratic party.

Thirty-nine Democrats broke ranks and supported the legislation, which would allow health insurance companies to sell policies that do not meet all the requirements of the new health law.

The bill's fate in the Senate is uncertain, and the White House says President Barack Obama would veto it if it passes.

The White House has been faced with a barrage of complaints that millions of people are losing their insurance on New Year's Day because of the new law, popularly known as Obamacare, even though Mr. Obama promised voters they could keep their policies if they wanted to.

President Obama met with heath insurance executives Friday in what the White House called a "brainstorming session."

The president has offered his own fix to the canceled policies, saying that insurance companies can offer renewals of old policies for another year. The measure is limited to renewals and not to new customers and would only be in place for one year.

The health insurance industry reacted coolly to Mr. Obama's policy change on the expiring policies. It said that since insurance prices have already been set for 2014, renewing the old policies "could destabilize the market" and result in higher insurance premiums in the months ahead.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama, took full blame for the slow roll-out of the health reforms. Millions of people staring at computers have been blocked when they attempted to buy insurance on a government Internet link.

''We did fumble the ball on it. And what I'm going to do is make sure that we get it fixed.''