Republican efforts to overhaul or repeal Obamacare collapsed in the US Senate on Tuesday, dealing a heavy setback to President Donald Trump in his bid to kill predecessor Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, Reuters reports.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had announced a vote on a straight repeal of Obamacare, which would take effect in two years, after it became clear on Monday night that he did not have enough support to pass an overhaul of the healthcare law.
But the new approach unraveled within hours as moderate Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska quickly announced they would not back repeal.
With Democrats united in opposition, Republicans can only afford to lose two votes to pass the measure in the Senate, where they have a slim 52-48 majority.
“I do not think that it’s going to be constructive to repeal a law that at this point is so interwoven within our healthcare system and then hope that over the next two years we will come up with some kind of replacement,” Collins told reporters.
The disarray in the Republican-controlled Senate rattled financial markets as it cast doubt on the chances of getting Trump’s other domestic policy priorities, such as tax reform, through a divided Congress, Reuters noted.
Trump said he was disappointed by the failure and suggested he might let the insurance markets created under Obamacare go under and then try to work with Democrats on a rescue.
“We’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We will let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”
Obamacare has boosted the number of Americans with health insurance through mandates on individuals and employers, and income-based subsidies. About 20 million Americans gained insurance coverage through the law.
The failure of the bill exposed the divide within Republicans’ ranks, with moderates concerned the healthcare reform’s Medicaid cuts will take insurance away from millions of low-income Americans while conservatives backed the cuts and wanted even more dramatic changes to Obamacare.
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