Senate approves measure launching Obamacare repeal process
The U.S. Senate on Thursday took a first concrete step toward dismantling Obamacare, voting to instruct key committees to draft legislation repealing President Barack Obama's signature health insurance program, Reuters informs.
The vote was 51-48. The resolution now goes to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on it this week. Scrapping Obamacare is a top priority for the Republican majorities in both chambers and Republican President-elect Donald Trump.
Republicans have said that the process of repealing Obamacare could take months, and developing a replacement plan could take longer. But they are under pressure from Trump to act fast; he said on Wednesday that the repeal and replacement should happen "essentially simultaneously."
Some 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is officially called. Coverage was extended by expanding Medicaid and through online exchanges where consumers can receive income-based subsidies.
Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 over united Republican opposition. Democrats say the act is insuring more Americans and helping to slow the growth in healthcare spending.
But Republicans say the system is not working. The average Obamacare premium is set to rise 25 percent in 2017.