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Obama, Democrats to Consider Ways to Save Affordable Care Act

  • VOA News

FILE - The HealthCare.gov 2017 home page is seen on a laptop in Washington.

President Barack Obama will meet with Democrats in Congress on Wednesday to discuss ways to protect his signature health care law, which Republicans have threatened to repeal.

The president and Democratic lawmakers hope to devise a strategy to delay the Republican-controlled House and Senate from repealing much of the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement plan.

House Republicans in Congress have voted numerous times to repeal all or parts of the law. The efforts were not taken up by the Senate.

While campaigning, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to gut the bill, and Republicans have indicated that their first act in 2017 will be a vote in Congress to begin dismantling the health care law that has provided coverage to millions of Americans.

Democrats, left stunned by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's loss in the November general election, are now trying to organize a counterattack to preserve the law.

Democrats also hope to devise a plan to pre-empt bigger health care changes to Medicare and Medicaid that Republicans have suggested.

Signed into law in 2010

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was signed into law by Obama on March 23, 2010. It was among the most significant expansions of the social safety net since Medicare and Medicaid were created 50 years ago.

It was passed during Obama's first term, when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.

Among the more popular parts of the law are measures that help people pay for their insurance coverage, allow parents to buy insurance for their children up to age 26, and ban denial of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Other measures are not as popular, such as a fine against people who do not buy coverage.

After the election, Obama and Trump met at the White House, where Trump said Obama made a plea to save the health care act.

Trump admitted in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he wanted to keep some parts of the law, including the ability of parents to insure their adult children and the ban on denying coverage.

But the law was designed so the expenses of the popular coverage items were balanced by the cost of less popular items. For example, the pre-existing condition protections are balanced by the law's mandate to get coverage, which tries to ensure that healthy people sign up and keep premiums from increasing.

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