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obamacare repeal

In a major step forward for President Donald Trump’s attempts to repeal ObamaCare, the Senate has voted to start debating a new Republican healthcare bill.

In a tight vote, several Republicans previously opposed to aspects of the plan changed their minds.

Prior attempts to replace ObamaCare have collapsed in recent weeks due to divisions in the GOP.

President Donald Trump had made scrapping the policy a key campaign pledge.

On July 25, the Senate began the debate-and-vote process which is expected to last a number of days. Nine Republicans voted against the first amendment – to repeal and replace ObamaCare – and it failed to pass.

Earlier, President Trump had warned GOP’s senators of the repercussions of not pushing through the measures to repeal and replace ObamaCare, known formally as the Affordable Care Act.

Image source Wikimedia

ObamaCare Repeal: President Trump Asks GOP Senators to Stand Behind Their Bill

The GOP, which needed a majority for the motion to go ahead, secured 51 votes after Vice-President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaker in support of the legislation.

Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, received a standing ovation as he returned to Congress to cast his “Yes” vote.

Donald Trump tweeted his thanks to the Arizona senator for playing “such a vital role” in the vote: “Congrats to all Rep. We can now deliver grt [great] healthcare to all Americans.”

It remains unclear what measure senators will now debate and vote on.

There appear to be two choices – either a repeal-and-replace bill that has already struggled to win support across the party, or a bill that enacts repeal with a two-year delay, in the hope of finding agreement before that time elapses.

However, senators have also considered a “skinny bill”, a far narrower measure that would scale back some of the more controversial elements in an effort to get a wider consensus.

Republicans have long railed against ObamaCare as government overreach, criticizing the system for introducing government-run marketplaces, where premiums have risen sharply for some people.

The GOP’s proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor and disabled.

It removes ObamaCare’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

About 20 million people gained health insurance under former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO) found the bill would strip 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next decade.

If Republican senators elect to repeal key provisions of ObamaCare without immediately replacing it, the CBO estimates about 32 million consumers would lose insurance over the next 10 years.

The new Republican healthcare policy should be to allow ObamaCare to collapse, said President Donald Trump.

He told reporters of the current healthcare law: “I’m not going to own it.”

“I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.”

Support for the Republican Senate bill fell apart on July 17 when two more senators said they could not back it.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said President Trump was “playing a dangerous game” with the US healthcare system.

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ObamaCare Replacement: Republican Efforts to Find Alternative Fail

He said on July 18: “He is actively, actively trying to undermine the healthcare system in this country using millions of Americans as political pawns in a cynical game.”

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber would vote early next week on a motion for repealing ObamaCare only.

However, with at least three Republicans against the plan B, it is probably doomed, too.

Donald Trump backed the just-repeal-it plan on July 17 but changed his tune on the next day by proposing to simply let ObamaCare – which has failed to curb rising costs as insurance options dwindle – die on its own.

“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” the president tweeted.

Donald Trump has invited all Republican senators to discuss healthcare over lunch at the White House on July 19.

Without a replacement bill, analysts have estimated that millions of people would lose health insurance.

The GOP’s proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor and disabled, removed the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty and implemented a six-month lockout period for anyone who lets their health coverage lapse for more than two months.

The House of Representatives passed a similar version of the Senate bill, but slashed taxes on the wealthy used to pay for the health scheme. The Senate proposed a similar provision but was forced to ditch it amid opposition.