US President Barack Obama exhorted fellow Democrats on Wednesday to preserve his legacy-defining healthcare law as Republicans moved ahead with their long-desired bid to scrap it.
Obama, who hands over the presidency to Trump on Jan. 20, made a rare trip to Capitol Hill to urge Democratic lawmakers to protect the measure, which is known as Obamacare, Reuters reports.
That came as Vice President-elect Mike Pence said repeal of the healthcare law would be the “first order of business” of the Donald Trump administration.
The Republican-controlled Senate brushed aside unified opposition by Democrats and voted to open debate on a resolution setting in motion the drive to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which has helped upwards of 20 million previously uninsured Americans obtain medical insurance.
Democrats accused their rivals of trying to rip apart the nation’s healthcare system with no firm plan to replace it.
“The Republican plan to cut healthcare wouldn’t ‘make America great again,’” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, invoking Trump’s campaign slogan.
“It would make America sick again and lead to chaos instead of affordable care.”
As early as 2018, the millions of people who gained insurance under the law could see their coverage in jeopardy if Congress fails to find a replacement to the law beforehand.
Republicans say Obamacare has brought excessive government intrusion into the healthcare market and argue that it is harming job growth by adding burdens on businesses.
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