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Republicans unveil plan to repeal and replace Obamacare

WASHINGTON: US House Republicans have unveiled long-awaited legislation that will repeal and replace the healthcare reforms known as Obamacare.

It comes largely under the framework that President Donald Trump laid out in his recent congressional address.

The American Health Care Act will dismantle several of the core aspects of the reforms, including ending related subsidies and taxes.

It will also end the requirement for individuals to have insurance, instead providing incentives for people to purchase it on the open market.

"After years of Obamacare's broken promises, House Republicans today took an important step," House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden said.

"Simply put, we have a better way to deliver solutions that put patients - not bureaucrats - first, and we are moving forward united in our efforts to rescue the American people from the mess Obamacare has created."

Obamacare has stirred controversy since becoming law in 2010 under President Barack Obama and a Congress controlled by Democrats.

But it has increased in popularity and is credited with helping 20 million Americans acquire coverage.

But Republicans argue that insurance premiums have soared for millions of Americans, and that Obamacare has been a job killer.

The new Bill will preserve two popular Obamacare elements: prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and allowing dependents to remain on their parents' plans until age 26.

Republicans have not provided a cost figure for the new plan or estimates on how many people might be covered.

The replacement plan has courted controversy within Mr Trump's own party for months, as some Republican lawmakers warn that the tax credits in the new measure are just a reworked version of Obamacare's existing subsidies.

Under the new Bill, Americans will receive such tax credits amounting to between US$2,000 (S$2,820) and US$14,000 a year that will help low- and middle-income families gain access to health insurance.

Several Republican governors who expanded the low-income Medicaid programme through Obamacare warn that the plan could leave their state budgets under water. - AFP

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