Date
26 May 2017
Chairman Rep. Fred Upton speaks during a marathon House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on a potential replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Photo: Reuters
Chairman Rep. Fred Upton speaks during a marathon House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on a potential replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Photo: Reuters

Republican health plan clears first hurdles but fate uncertain

The Republican plan backed by President Donald Trump to overhaul the US healthcare system have cleared its first hurdles in Congress, but its chances for passage looked uncertain.

In the face of opposition by Democrats, healthcare providers and many conservatives, two House of Representatives committees approved the legislation that would undo much of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, moving it closer to a vote before the full House, Reuters reports.

The Energy and Commerce Committee voted 31-23 along party lines, with Democrats unified against it, to back the plan after marathon proceedings lasting 27 straight hours.

Hours earlier, the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee similarly voted 23-16 before dawn to approve it after working 17 straight hours.

House Speaker Paul Ryan sought to bolster support among conservatives in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said fellow Republicans must get in a “governing mode” while Trump denied the bill was in trouble.

“Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!” the Republican president said on Twitter.

The bill would replace Obamacare’s income-based subsidies with a system of fixed tax credits to help people buy private insurance on the open market, while ditching the Obamacare expansion of the Medicaid insurance program for the poor.

It would also end penalties for not having insurance, although insurers would be given permission to impose a 30 percent surcharge on customers who let their coverage lapse for more than two months and then seek to renew.

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