US President Barack Obama has hailed the start of a ‘new season in America’ as he signed his historic health care reform into law.

The US House of Representatives yesterday gave final approval to a sweeping healthcare overhaul, expanding insurance coverage to nearly all US citizens.

House Democrats approved the most dramatic health policy changes in four decades by 219 to 212 votes.

The overhaul will extend health coverage to 32 million US citizens, expand the government health plan for the poor, impose new taxes on the wealthy and bar insurance practices such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The vote capped a year-long political battle with Republicans that consumed the US Congress and dented Mr Obama's approval ratings, and fulfilled a goal that had eluded many presidents for a century - most recently Democrat Bill Clinton in 1994.