Monday 21 August 2017

Republicans finally win vote to repeal Obamacare

US President Donald Trump celebrates with Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House after the House of Representatives approved the American Healthcare Act
US President Donald Trump celebrates with Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House after the House of Representatives approved the American Healthcare Act

Nick Allen in Washington

House Republicans voted to repeal large portions of Obamacare yesterday, a major step towards consigning the former president’s signature domestic policy to history.

Seven years after Barack Obama hailed the landmark healthcare bill, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, a Republican bill to overturn it narrowly passed in the House, paving the way for “Trumpcare” to become its replacement.

The bill needed 216 votes to pass, and won with 217 to 213. It will now move on to the US Senate where its passage is much less certain.

Mr Trump hailed the decision in the House as a “wonderful vote”. It was his first major legislative victory since taking office after a previous attempt failed in March. He said: “Insurance companies are fleeing Obamacare - it is dead. Our healthcare plan will lower premiums and deductibles, and be great healthcare!”

After his earlier failure, the president was instrumental in changing the minds of several members of Congress with personal calls and meetings.

Repeal of Obamacare became a rallying cry for Mr Trump and the Republican Party during last year’s election as they declared it an example of government overreach and complained that it drove up costs.

The replacement bill, nicknamed “Trumpcare” and officially known as the American Health Care Act, will still face a struggle to pass the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrower majority of 52 seats in the 100-seat chamber. Republican Senator Bob Corker said: “My guess is we’re going to spend at least a month looking at the issue, making sure that it passes the test of time.”

About 20 million Americans gained healthcare coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The American Health Care Act would repeal most Obamacare taxes, including a financial penalty for people who refuse to buy health insurance, and it would slash funding for Medicaid, which provides insurance for the poor.

Moderate Republicans had wavered over concerns that the replacement legislation would undo a popular aspect of Obamacare requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

They met Mr Trump and proposed a compromise which involved adding $8 billion (pounds 62 million) funding over five years to help cover costs for those people.

The Freedom Caucus, a conservative faction of Republican members of Congress who blocked the previous repeal attempt in March because it did not go far enough, said they could accept the compromise.

Congressman Mark Meadows, the group’s chairman, said: “This is about making it better for the American people, and what the president signs will be infinitely better.”

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat leader in the House, said: “Trumpcare will take away health coverage from 24 million hard working people. Trumpcare means soaring premiums.

“It’s frightening for families who need care the most. You’re voting to take away their healthcare.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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