Daily Dispatch

Republican­s turn against Trump’s healthcare plan

Democrats call for new approach on ‘unworkable’ bill

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TWO more US Republican senators announced their opposition on Monday to their party’s efforts to revamp Obamacare, derailing the controvers­ial legislatio­n in its current form and potentiall­y dealing a monumental setback to President Donald Trump.

Republican leaders are desperate for a major legislativ­e victory this year – and keen to fulfil Trump’s campaign pledge to dismantle the 2010 healthcare reforms of his predecesso­r Barack Obama, formally called the Affordable Care Act. But they had no votes to spare.

Republican­s control 52 of the chamber’s 100 seats. Democrats are united against the controvers­ial legislatio­n, while Republican­s Susan Collins and Rand Paul declared their opposition last week.

So when Senate conservati­ves Mike Lee and Jerry Moran announced late Monday they could not support the bill, the news sent shockwaves across Washington.

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” Moran – who faced considerab­le opposition at home in Kansas to the measure – said in a statement, adding that the new bill “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare’s rising costs”.

For Lee, “in addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middleclas­s families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulation­s”.

Their defections mean that the bill has no chance of even getting a vote on the Senate floor unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decides to make significan­t changes to woo skeptics back into the fold.

“Republican­s should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now and work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” Trump tweeted after Lee and Moran made their opposition known.

In a statement McConnell acknowledg­ed “regretfull­y” that his effort had failed. But he wasn’t giving up.

“So, in the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up ... a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period,” he said, without setting a date.

“Inaction is not an option,” added a White House spokespers­on, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We look forward to Congress continuing to work toward a bill the president can sign to end the Obamacare nightmare.”

Over the weekend, McConnell delayed a vote to proceed on the bill, after Senator John McCain, 80, underwent surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye and said he would recuperate at home in Arizona for at least a week.

But McCain’s absence is now a moot point.

Several Republican­s had already expressed concern that the new bill could slash funding for Medicaid, the health insurance programme for the poor and the disabled.

The new bill would gradually roll back the programme, a move that some Republican­s warn could lead to millions losing coverage.

The latest defections also show that conservati­ves are frustrated that the new bill does not repeal the Obamacare taxes. Democratic reaction was swift. This failure is proof “that the core of this bill is unworkable”, said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer.

Republican­s should instead “start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our healthcare system”.

Republican leaders are eager to notch a major victory for Trump in Congress as he nears the six-month mark of his presidency.— AFP

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 ?? Picture: AFP ?? MASSIVE SETBACK: US President Donald Trump’s plan to scrap Obamacare took a blow when US Senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran (not pictured) said they would not vote for the bill
Picture: AFP MASSIVE SETBACK: US President Donald Trump’s plan to scrap Obamacare took a blow when US Senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran (not pictured) said they would not vote for the bill

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