Congress votes out Obamacare

Republicans began delivering on their promise to end Obamacare. Photo / AP
Republicans began delivering on their promise to end Obamacare. Photo / AP

Congress has started the process of dismantling Obamacare, despite concerns about not having a ready replacement and the potential financial cost of repealing Democratic President Barack Obama's landmark health insurance law.

The House of Representatives voted 227-198 to instruct committees to draft legislation by January 27 that would repeal the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. The Senate approved the same measure on Thursday.

No Democrats supported the initiative. Nine Republicans voted against the measure.

With this vote, Republicans began delivering on their promise to end Obamacare, which also was a campaign promise of Republican President-elect Donald Trump.

The programme, which expanded health coverage to 20 million people, has been plagued by increases in insurance premiums and deductibles and by some large insurers leaving the system.

The resolution passed by the House and Senate does not need presidential approval, since it is part of an internal congressional budget process. But once the Obamacare repeal legislation is drafted, both chambers will need to approve it, and a presidential signature will be required.

By that time, Trump will have been sworn in as president. He has urged Congress to act quickly to repeal and replace the Democratic programme.

Obamacare was enacted nearly seven years ago - over Republican objections - in an effort to expand coverage and give new protections for people with pre-existing health conditions and other barriers that left them without insurance.

- AAP

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