United States President Donald Trump has suffered a major blow after the US Senate voted against a plan to repeal Obamacare.
The US President had hoped for the Senate’s backing in his bid to repeal the health care act – one of his key campaign pledges.
But the plan was blocked by 51-49 in the 100 seat Senate, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting against it.
Among those Republicans who voted against the bill was former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who had returned to Washington for the vote after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week.
Other Republicans who voted against the bill were Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
Responding to the loss in the Senate, Mr Trump tweeted: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”
Unable to pass even a so-called “skinny repeal,” it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal “Obamacare.”
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time.”
“It’s time to move on,” he said.
McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week.
He had called his measure the Health Care Freedom Act. It was not intended to become law, but to open a path for a House-Senate conference committee to try to work out comprehensive legislation Congress could pass and send to Trump.
The measure would have repealed the unpopular Affordable Care Act requiring most people to have health insurance or risk a fine from the IRS. A similar requirement on larger employers would be suspended for eight years.
Additionally it would have denied funding to Planned Parenthood for a year, and suspended for three years a tax on medical device manufacturers. States could seek waivers from consumer protections in the Obama-era law, and individuals could increase the amount they contribute to tax-sheltered health savings accounts for medical expenses.
The bill – dubbed “skinny repeal” – would have scaled back parts of Obamacare and is the third attempt to repeal the President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare act.
Obamacare led to an estimated 20 million people gaining health insurance. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 32 million extra people would be left without health insurance by 2026 if the act was repealed with no replacement introduced
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