US President Donald Trump has blamed Democrats for the failure of his healthcare bill. The bill was withdrawn on Friday because it did not have enough support to pass in Congress.
Trump said "We couldn't get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it." The last-minute retraction is seen as a huge blow to the president. Repealing and replacing the programme known as Obamacare was one of his major election pledges. House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and Mr Trump agreed to withdraw the vote, after it became apparent it would not get the minimum of 215 Republican votes needed.
Republicans currently have a majority in both the House and the Senate. However, multiple reports suggested that between 28 and 35 Republicans were opposed to President Trump's draft American Health Care Act. Some were said to be unhappy that the bill cut health coverage too severely, while others felt the changes did not go far enough. The bill also appeared unpopular with the public - in one recent poll, just 17% approved of it.
What did the bill propose?
- Cuts the Medicaid programme for low earners
- Provides tax credits to help people pay medical bills, but reduced compared to Obamacare
- Ends penalties on those who do not buy health coverage
- Allows insurers to raise premiums for older people
- Blocks federal payments to women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood for a year
How bad was Friday's defeat of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives?
The American Health Care Act was the first major piece of legislation pushed by the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress, a key political test early in the president's term, when he should be at the height of his power and party cohesion at its strongest.
In spite of all of this, Mr Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republicans running Washington could not get the job done. For Republicans Friday wasn't just bad. It was a disaster.
Trump should let Obamacare go its own way or two parties should join and work out a decent healthcare bill.