Kill Bill, White House Edition: Obamacare Repeal Dies in Senate

Three Republicans crossed party lines to join Democrats in a 49-to-51 vote to kill the bill.

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World
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Three Republicans crossed party lines to join Democrats in a 49-to-51 vote to kill the bill.
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US Senate Republicans failed to overturn the healthcare law known as Obamacare early on Friday, in a stinging blow to President Donald Trump that effectively ended the Republican Party's seven-year quest to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Three Republicans – Senators Collins, Murkowski, and McCain – crossed party lines to join the Democrats in a 49-to-51 vote to kill the bill. Interestingly, two of the three rebelling Republicans are women, and the third is a war veteran.

Senate Republicans had decided to vote on the pared-down proposal to repeal portions of Obamacare after failing to reach consensus on a more comprehensive measure since the US House of Representatives approved their bill in May.

"This is clearly a disappointing moment," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor after the vote.

The Affordable Care Act, known informally as Obamacare, gave insurance to 20 million previously uninsured Americans and was the signature domestic achievement of former Democratic President Barack Obama. Republicans say the law is too costly and represents undue government interference in healthcare.

Here are some key things the Republican bill, known formally as the American Health Care Act, proposed to do:

Individual and Employer Mandate

The bill would repeal an Obamacare penalty on individuals who do not purchase health insurance. It would also repeal a penalty for eight years on employers with more than 50 employees that do not provide health insurance.

Medical Device Tax

The legislation would also have repealed a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales, until 31 December 2020. If it were to become law, this repeal would be welcome news to manufacturers such as Medtronic Inc and Abbott Laboratories Inc.

Planned Parenthood

The Senate bill effectively defunds Planned Parenthood for one year by prohibiting Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled, from reimbursing the women's healthcare provider. The majority of Planned Parenthood patients are on Medicaid.

Medicaid

Unlike previous attempts to craft legislation to repeal or replace Obamacare, the skinny bill does not end the law's Medicaid expansion or make changes to the federal health program.

(With inputs from Reuters.)

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