US lawmakers pull bill intended to repeal Affordable Healthcare Act

On Friday, Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives withdrew proposed legislation aimed at overhauling the Affordable Healthcare Act, signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2010. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump agreed that the bill be pulled from consideration on the House floor after determining that the measure was unlikely to receive enough votes to pass. "Obamacare is…going to remain the law of the land until it's replaced," Ryan said, adding "we're going to be living with [the current legislation] for the foreseeable future."

According to estimates, at least 32 Republican representatives had indicated they would vote against the bill, in addition to all Democratic members of the House. "We were just probably anywhere from 10 to 15 votes short," Trump remarked, noting that "with no Democrat support, we couldn't quite get there." Trump, who said he would now focus on getting "big tax cuts" through Congress, suggested the setback was "perhaps the best thing that could happen…because we'll end up with a truly great healthcare bill in the future after this mess known as Obamacare explodes."

The Republican proposal would have eliminated tax penalties imposed by the Affordable Healthcare Act on people without health insurance, as well as reduced subsidies that helped people obtain private insurance. Meanwhile, tax credits included in the proposed legislation were based on age, not income as in Obamacare, while tax increases imposed by the current law on healthcare companies and higher income earners would have been repealed. Further, the bill would have ended Medicaid expansion and permitted states to impose work requirements on certain Medicaid recipients. 

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The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the proposed bill would increase the number of uninsured people in the US by 24 million over the next decade, compared with the number who would be uninsured under the current law, and would also raise healthcare costs for those with lower incomes and for older adults just shy of becoming eligible for Medicare.

In January, Trump urged Republican lawmakers to immediately repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act and quickly move to replace the legislation. He later issued an executive order scaling back many parts of the law. 

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