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US Senate votes to repeal Obamacare health program

In a symbolic move, US lawmakers have voted 52-47 to repeal parts of President Obama's signature heathcare reform law. Republicans have been trying for five years to overturn health subsidies for the poorest Americans.

Thursday's vote was the first step in a new process to attempt to repeal the controversial Obamacare law, which has been the centerpiece of US President Barack Obama's eight-year term.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to repeal several core provisions in the legislation, using special budget rules that allow for a vote with a simple majority.

The amendment, if eventually adopted, would result in millions of the poorest Americans losing their health insurance, after having been covered recently for the first time.

The new bill seeks to phase out a major expansion of Medicaid healthcare benefits and eliminate subsidies and taxes on medical devices and high-cost plans offered by employers.

Dogged determination

The proposed amendment, which still needs to be voted on in the House of Representatives, follows more than 60 previous Republican attempts to roll back the landmark 2010 healthcare reform law.

Democrats have blocked previous attempts and the US Supreme Court has forced states to comply.

Ahead of the vote, the White House said President Obama would veto the amendment if it reached his office.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman John Enzi said in debate that Obamacare was "unworkable, unaffordable and more unpopular than ever. For millions of Americans the law today represents nothing more than broken promises, higher costs and fewer choices."

US media reports suggest some Obamacare insurance plans have struggled to enroll enough Americans due to higher than expected costs and increased premiums.

One provider, United Health Group, said on Thursday it may pull out of the plan due to large financial losses. But White House officials maintain that other insurers are still happy to offer insurance to poorer Americans.

mm/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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