Donald Trump's Obamacare repeal in major step forward after key vote win

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The US Senate has begun debating a new healthcare bill in a key step forward in Donald Trump’s efforts to repeal Obamacare

Politicians voted narrowly to begin debating the bill – that would repeal policies introduced under Affordable Care Act – on Tuesday evening.

But the President’s initial victory was quickly undermined by the Republicans’ failure to pass the first amendment, which would have made deep cuts to health insurance and reduce healthcare subsidies to lower-income people.

Mr Trump hailed the opportunity to “move forward towards truly great healthcare” after the Senate voted in favour of debating the bill by 51 votes to 50.

Debate: Vice President Mike Pence, right, cast the deciding vote (Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to win the Republicans a majority and Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour, was applauded when he arrived at congress to vote.

But the initial proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare failed to get the 60 votes needed for approval, with nine Republicans voting against the measure.

The healthcare replacement plan needed 60 votes to pass but instead was halted by a vote of 43 to 57.

The amendment would have made cuts to Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, and reduced Obamacare subsidies to lower-income people to help them with the cost of health insurance.

It was the first of many expected votes this week on repealing or replacing elements of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Senators are deciding between the initial plan to repeal and replace Obamacare or different bills which would either delay the repeal by a couple of years in a bid to come to an agreement or just scale back existing measures.

President: Trump celebrated the debate starting at a rally in Ohio (Getty Images)

The latter two may be easier to pass through by gaining a wider consensus but, regardless, the outcome of this week’s votes could have huge implications for healthcare and families across the United States.

Prior to the debate, protesters gathered in the Senate gallery chanting: “Kill the bill, don’t kill us! Shame, shame shame.”

The President later celebrated the start of the debate in Ohio where he addressed the voters who helped put him in office.

“We’re now one step closer to liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people,” PresidentTrump told a crowd of several thousand in Youngstown.

“You think that’s easy? That’s not easy,” he said.

About 20 million people gained healthcare insurance as a result of President Obama’s reforms. Experts have warned an extra 32 million people could be left without health insurance by 2026 if Obamacare is repealed without replacement.

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