House votes to repeal Obama's healthcare overhaul
Republicans in the US House of Representatives have passed a bill to repeal President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, in a symbolic move demonstrating their gains in Congress.
The vote fulfils a top promise made to Republican voters in the November's mid-term elections.
Senate Democrats, who hold the majority in that chamber, have signaled they won't allow a vote on the repeal bill.
Republicans have also vowed to deny Mr Obama the funds to implement the law.
Republicans won sweeping gains in November's mid-term congressional elections in part by attacking what they portrayed as a costly and job-killing healthcare law.
The bill passed the House in a 245-189 vote, with three Democrats joining the majority Republicans.
"Our vote to repeal is not merely symbolic," Republican Representative Nan Hayworth told the Associated Press news agency.
"It respects the will of the American people, and it paves the way to reform our healthcare," he added.
Mr Obama, who signed the healthcare change into law in 2010, has said he will veto the bill to overturn the law if it passes in both the House and Senate.
Meanwhile, the renewed debate has given congressional Democrats an opportunity vigorously to defend the law's more popular provisions.
'Landmark law' repeal
The president's landmark achievement would provide coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people.
The law would also expand a Medicaid programme for the poor and provide tax credits to make premiums more affordable for the middle class.
"Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can't deny, cap or drop their coverage when they need it the most, while taking meaningful steps to curb runaway health costs," the president said in a statement on Tuesday.
But Republicans are challenging the overhaul, which is set fully to take effect in 2014, as unconstitutional in federal court.
Sixty votes in the Senate, which only holds 47 Republicans, would probably be needed to overturn the law - if it passes in the House later on Wednesday.
Many in the US are already benefiting from the overhaul, which has allowed for extended coverage for young adults on their parents' healthcare plan and lower prices for prescription medicine for Medicare recipients.
The US healthcare reform law was approved in March of last year, making it compulsory for Americans to buy medical insurance and illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to customers with pre-existing conditions.