Trump disowns health reforms, will 'let Obamacare fail'


Donald Trump has said he will “let Obamacare fail” following a humiliating defeat where the Republican “repeal and replace” bill failed to make it through a Senate vote.

But despite the tough rhetoric from Trump, reports suggest that Republican senators will have to work with Democrats to tweak the legislation instead.

Trump's Republican party has a slender 52-48 majority in the Senate – enough to get legislation passed in many situations, but intractable division within the Republican party has once again scuppered the long-promised reforms.

The first "repeal and replace" bill was stopped by a similar rebellion among the House of Representatives among both moderates and hardliners in the party, but it narrowly made it through the lower house in a revised form in May.

But a report published last month by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the latest plan would increase the number of people without health insurance to 22 million by 2026.

Public opinion polls have also shown the reform proposals to be deeply unpopular: a survey published yesterday found just 12% of voters in “Trump counties” supported the reforms, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

These factors added to deep division in the Republican party, with many state governors fearful of losing their seat in next year's mid-term elections.

The legislation aims to repeal and replace many of the measures introduced by President Obama, who had widened access to health insurance with his Affordable Care Act – dubbed “Obamacare” by his political opponents.

But three Republican Senators – Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Shelly Moore Capito of West Viriginia, voted against the bill that would have taken away health insurance from millions of Americans.

Their decision meant that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell fell one vote short of the 50 he needed to get the bill approved.

Following the defeat, Trump told reporters at the White House: “I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail.”

“We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you that the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they’re going to say, ‘How do we fix it?'”

Reuters reported that Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar put a different spin on events, suggesting this was an opportunity to force Trump to compromise even further. She said: "This is our moment, we have been waiting for this moment for months and months and in fact for years.”

McConnell’s group had won many Republican senators over by delaying the most controversial reforms such as cuts to Medicaid until after the mid-term elections.

They had also delayed provisions that repealed taxes that supported Obamacare, giving the system more financial headroom.