Trump faces major test as vote looms on US healthcare bill
House Republican leaders have expressed confidence the bill would pass and several party moderates who previously objected to it got behind it on Wednesday.world Updated: May 04, 2017 16:15 IST
The US House of Representatives was set on Thursday for a cliffhanger vote to repeal Obamacare, as Republican leaders worked to deliver President Donald Trump a win for one of his top legislative priorities.
House Republican leaders have expressed confidence the bill would pass and several party moderates who previously objected to it got behind it on Wednesday, giving the effort new momentum.
Still, the vote was expected to be close. Even if the measure passes the House, it faces daunting odds in the Senate where Republicans hold a narrower majority.
Keen to score his first major legislative win since taking office in January, Trump threw his own political capital behind the bill, meeting lawmakers and calling them in an effort to cajole their support.
Trump, whose Republican party controls both the House and Senate, is seeking to make good on his campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Aides said he worked the phones furiously.
Wavering moderate Republicans had worried that the legislation to overhaul President Barack Obama’s 2010 signature healthcare law would leave too many people with pre-existing medical conditions unable to afford health coverage.
But the sceptical Republican lawmakers got behind the bill after meeting with Trump to float a compromise proposal that is still expected to face unanimous Democratic opposition.
The legislation’s prospects brightened further after members of the Freedom Caucus, a faction of conservative lawmakers in the House who played a key role in derailing the original version of the bill last month, said they could go along with the compromise.
Millions more Americans got healthcare coverage under Obamacare, but Republicans have long attacked it, seeing it as government overreach and complaining it drives up costs.
Called the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill would repeal most Obamacare taxes, including a penalty for not buying health insurance. It would slash funding for Medicaid, the program that provides insurance for the poor, and roll back much of Medicaid’s expansion.
The latest effort comes after earlier pushes by Trump for healthcare reform collapsed twice, underscoring the difficulty of uniting the various factions of the Republican party.
First Published: May 04, 2017 16:15 IST