President Donald Trump on Thursday declared Obamacare "essentially dead" after the House of Representatives narrowly passed a Republican-crafted health care replacement.
Trump celebrated the bill's approval in the White House Rose Garden, surrounded by many of the Republicans who voted to repeal and replace Obama's Affordable Care Act.
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"They're doing it for the country, not for the party," Trump said of his fellow Republicans.
He said he wanted to "brag about the plan," which he called "so very, very incredibly well-crafted."
The president said he was confident the Senate would also pass it, calling Obamacare a "catastrophe."
No hearings, no assessment
The new American Health Care Act was approved 217-213. Every Democrat voted no, along with 20 Republicans.
It was passed without any congressional hearings or a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office assessment of how much the bill would cost.
The major difference between Obamacare and the new bill is coverage for pre-existing conditions.
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Obamacare barred insurance companies from charging customers more because of such illnesses. Under the new bill, states would have the choice of opting out of that condition.
Critics say people who are sick through no fault of their own may no longer be able to afford health insurance.
The new bill also cancels the Obamacare requirement that everyone carry insurance or pay a penalty.
Trump had made replacing Obamacare a keystone of his presidential campaign. He called President Barack Obama's signature achievement too expensive and full of government intrusion.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the Republican bill a scary "zombie" because it returned from the dead after two previous attempts to pass it failed. She predicted a voter backlash in next year's congressional elections.
"They will find out their congressperson voted to gut key protections. Trumpcare destroys protections for pre-existing conditions" and "guts essential health benefits such as maternity care, prenatal, prescription drug and emergency coverage."
Hours after the bill’s passage, as Trump met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the U.S. leader praised Australia’s health care system, saying “... you have better health care than we do.” Australia’s universal health care is government funded.
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, in an interview on MSNBC-TV, laughed when he was shown videotape of the Trump-Turnbull exchange. He said, “Thank you, Mr. President. We’ll quote you on the floor of the Senate.”
“Canada has a single-payer health care system and many European countries also have some form of universal health care,” Sanders said. “Let us move to a Medicare-for-all system that does what every other major country does.”
The American Health Care Act now goes to the Senate, where it could have a much tougher time. Republicans control just 52 of 100 Senate seats and the new bill could have a difficult time finding support from moderates.