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Obamacare: the dismantling begins

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Obamacare: the dismantling begins

The US Senate has taken the first concrete step towards dismantling Obamacare.

It has voted to instruct key committees to draft legislation repealing the US president’s signature health insurance programme.

How did they vote?


The resolution instructs committees of the House and Senate to draft repeal legislation by a target date of January 27.

Both chambers will then need to approve the resulting legislation before any repeal comes into effect.

Senate Republicans are using special budget proceedings that allow them to repeal Obamacare by a simple majority.

This way, they don’t need Democratic votes.

Republicans have a majority of 52 votes in the 100-seat Senate.

One Republican, Rand Paul, voted no on Thursday.

What happens now?

The resolution now goes to the House of Representatives.

It is expected to vote this week.

Scrapping Obamacare is a top priority for the Republican majorities in both chambers, as well as Republican President-elect, Donald Trump.

How long will the whole process take?

Republicans have said the process of repealing Obamacare could take months.

Developing a replacement could take longer, they add.

However, they are under pressure from Trump to act fast.

He said on Wednesday that the repeal and replacement should happen “essentially simultaneously.”

What is Obamacare?

An estimated 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, to give it the official term.

Coverage was extended by expanding Medicaid and through online exchanges where consumers can receive basic incomes subsidies.

Why was it passed?

Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, over united Republican opposition.

They say the act is insuring more Americans and helping to slow the growth in healthcare spending.

However, Republicans say the system is not working.

The average Obamacare premimum is set to rise 25% in 2017.

Why do the Republicans want to repeal it?

They say it amounts to “government overreach”.

They have launched repeated legal and legislative efforts to unravel the law.

They want to replace it by giving states, not the federal government, more control.

However, in recent days, some Republicans have expressed concern about the party’s current strategy of voting for a repeal without having a consensus replacement plan ready.