Washington: The US House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly approved a bill to repeal Obamacare, handing Republican President Donald Trump a victory that could prove short-lived as the healthcare legislation heads into a likely tough battle in the Senate.
The American Health Care Act was approved mostly along partisan lines, 217-213, with just one vote to spare. No Democrats backed the bill, and a slew of Republicans opposed it as well.
Trump exuded confidence that the bill would pass through the Senate.
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“As far as I’m concerned, your premiums, they’re going to start to come down. We’re going to get this passed through the Senate,” Trump said.
“I don’t think you’re going to hear so much right now. The insurance companies are fleeing. It’s been a catastrophe. This is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better. This is, make no mistake, this is a repeal and a replace of Obamacare, make no mistake about it. Make no mistake,” he said, adding that premiums and deductibles will be coming down.
Trump said it has brought the Republican Party together. Rejoicing his victory, he said he was doing quite well as the US President.
“Coming from a different world, and only being a politician for a short period of time, how am I doing? Am I doing — OK, I am President. Hey, I am President, do you believe it, right?” he asked the lawmakers.
Vice President Mike Pence said this is the beginning of the end of Obamacare.
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“We have taken the historic first step to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said.
Trump said he now feels confident that his healthcare plan would be passed by the Senate.
“The deductible would come down. The premium would come down. This is a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it,” he said.
Describing this as a “big day”, Ryan said there are still a few steps left before it could be signed into law. The problems facing the American people are real, he said referring to the significant jump in healthcare insurance.
“This law (Obamacare) has failed and is collapsing. It makes healthcare more affordable and less vulnerable,” Ryan said.
Roughly 60-70 Republican House members attended the celebration of defeat of Obamacare at the White House, who lined up on the stairs in photo formation.
Top Indian-American healthcare official Seema Verma was seen standing in the front row along with top Republican lawmakers.
Verma who is the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in her remarks at the Rose Garden described this as a big day for the country. Verma is said to be one of the top Trump administration officials working to replace Obamacare.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price received a big round of applause as he entered and joined his former colleagues behind the podium.
(With PTI inputs)