Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare in vote on Thursday

Harry Cockburn

US President Donald Trump has said Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act is “dead” and “about ready to implode”, as Republican leaders prepare a vote to repeal and replace the legislation.

Republican members are reportedly confident President Donald Trump can help them reach the 216 votes required to back a health care bill led by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

After early scepticism among many Republicans about Mr Ryan’s bill, it is thought changes to the proposed legislation have helped secure additional support.

Mr Trump said on Friday he is “100 per cent in favour” of the replacement health care measure, and described Obamacare as a “disaster”.

“It is dead,” he said. “It is a dead healthcare plan”.

He also claimed that the media had not given enough positive coverage to the proposed replacement.

“The press has not been speaking properly about how great this is going to be”, he said during a news conference at the White House.

He added: “I think really that we’re going to have something that’s going to be much more understood and much more popular than people can even imagine.”

Speaking of the rise in support for the bill among politicians, Mr Trump said: “I am proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives and encouraged by members of both parties.

“I just want to let the world know I am 100 per cent in favour and these folks – and they are tough and they love their constituents and they love their country – these folks were nos, mostly nos yesterday and now every single one is a yes,” the President said.

According to CNN, members of the Republican Study Committee – who had initially been reluctant to lend their support the bill – emerged from a White House meeting convinced by the plan to replace Obamacare.

“You're looking at some of the top conservatives in the House. We stand united today to move this forward for the American people,” the chairman of the Republican Study Committee Mark Walker, told reporters on Friday morning.

Despite Mr Trump’s claims of support for the bill from both parties, the legislation faces considerable Democratic opposition, especially in the Senate, where the Republicans hold a smaller majority.

Democrats say the Republican plan could hurt the elderly, poor and working families while giving tax cuts for the rich. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “a wreck”.

Mr Trump’s anger at how the media has reported on his replacement healthcare plan follows the publication of independent analysis by the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO), similar to Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility.

The CBO estimated that 14 million more people would be uninsured next year under the legislation than under the current arrangement – a figure expected to rise to 24 million by 2026.