US & Canada

Obamacare repeal plan 'would axe insurance for 32m'

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Media captionTrump to senators: Cancel your vacation

Thirty-two million Americans would lose health coverage under a Republican plan to repeal Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has forecast.

The non-partisan office's analysis found the cost of a medical insurance policy would increase 25% next year and double by 2026.

The repeal bill would also cut the federal deficit by $473bn (£363bn), predicted the CBO.

The Republican-controlled Senate has twice failed to pass a healthcare bill.

Its members plan to vote next week on a plan to repeal President Barack Obama's 2010 health law with a two-year delay.

But the CBO estimates the number of uninsured would rise by 17 million next year alone if the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, were to be overturned.

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Media captionPresident Trump has been switching his position what do about the health bill in recent days

President Donald Trump earlier called on his party to postpone their summer holiday until they have repealed Obamacare and replaced it with the Republican plan.

Mr Trump told 49 Republican senators at the White House: "We should hammer this out and get it done."

In the past two days he has switched position several times, urging the repeal and replace of Obamacare, just repealing it, allowing it to fail, before reverting to repeal and replace on Wednesday.

Mr Trump said: "For seven years you promised the American people that you would repeal Obamacare.

"People are hurting. Inaction is not an option. And frankly I don't think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan."

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Media captionPresident Trump won big in Kentucky last year but the state also depends heavily on Obamacare

Mr Trump warned a senator who was seated next to him that he could lose his job if he did not toe the party line.

A ripple of uncomfortable laughter was heard in the room as the president said of Nevada's Dean Heller: "And he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he? OK."

Mr Heller, who was one of the earliest senators to oppose the first version of the Republican health bill, is up for re-election next year.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a vote early next week on a straight-up repeal of Obamacare.

However, it looks likely to fail after the defections on Tuesday of at least three of the party's senators.

Mr McConnell pointed out it was the same legislation that all but one Republican senator voted to send to President Barack Obama in 2015, safe in the knowledge he would veto it.

But now the party controls the White House and both chambers of Congress, some rank-and-file Republicans seem wary of enacting legislation that would eliminate medical insurance for millions of Americans.

"We thankfully have a president in office who will sign it," said Mr McConnell, whose reputation as a master tactician has been dented by the imbroglio.

"So we should send it to him."

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Media captionTrump's battles with Obamacare - in his own words

With Democrats united in opposition, Mr McConnell can only lose two votes from his 52-48 majority in the 100-seat Senate to pass the bill.

Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are opposed to repeal.

Overturning Obamacare was a top campaign pledge for Mr Trump and congressional Republicans, who view the law as a costly intrusion into the healthcare system.

The party's proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare programme for the poor and disabled.

It would also remove Obamacare's individual mandate, which requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

And there would be a six-month ban on obtaining new medical coverage for anyone who lets their previous policy lapse for more than two months.

Trump at six months

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