Republicans gear up to scrap Obamacare with early win

Republicans have scored an early victory over Democrats, which will allow them to make good on their stated pledge of dismantling President Barack Obama's controversial healthcare programme, popularly known as `Obamacare'.

According to commentators, what now remained to be seen was whether they and Donald Trump could now not just scrap The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but replace it.

The measure would prevent Senate Democrats from derailing a future bill, so far unwritten, to annul and reshape Obama's landmark 2010 law passed in the House 227-198.

The budget, which won senate approval early yesterday does not need the president's signature.

"The 'Unaffordable' Care Act will soon be history!" Trump tweeted yesterday; he will be sworn in as president next Friday.

In the debate that preceded the vote, Democrats praised Obamacare for extending coverage to tens of millions of US citizens, helping families afford policies and seniors buy prescriptions, while Republicans focused on the rising premiums and deductibles and limited access to doctors and insurers.

House speaker Paul Ryan, Republican-Wisconsin, said the health care law was "so arrogant and so contrary to our founding principles" and had failed to deliver on Obama's promises to lower costs and provide more choice.

"We have to step in before things get worse. This is nothing short of a rescue mission," Ryan said yesterday.

"Our experimentation in Soviet-style central planning of our health care system has been an abject failure," said freshman representative Jodey Arrington, Republican-Texas.

Under the Act, all Americans were required to have insurance or pay a penalty. The Act also aimed to widely expand the number of people eligible for the government-funded Medicaid programme, and its established online marketplaces, called exchanges where patients could comparatively shop for plans.

The massive package included many other provisions, such as making it illegal for patients with pre-existing conditions to be denied insurance, changing the ways doctors and hospitals were reimbursed by the federal government for care, and allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26.