Trump setback as Republicans withdraw health bill to dismantle Obamacare

Donald Trump has suffered a major setback in his attempts to repeal and replace his predecessor's Obamacare with a new health bill.

The planned legislation to overhaul the US healthcare system had been due to be voted on by politicians in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans.

But it was withdrawn at the last minute by party leaders because of a shortage of support, despite lobbying by the White House.

The bill was almost certain to be defeated had a vote taken place.

It was abruptly pulled by speaker Paul Ryan.

The President said he was "disappointed" and a "little surprised" by the defeat, amid splits among Republicans.

He claimed "we were very close" to getting the required 216 votes, as he blamed a lack of support from Democrats and predicted the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would "cease to exist" and "explode".

Mr Ryan told reporters: "We came up short. I thought the wise thing to do was to not proceed with the vote."

And he admitted: "We're going to live with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."

Mr Trump had demanded House Republicans vote on the legislation, threatening to leave Obamacare in place and move on to other issues if the vote failed. The President's gamble did not pay off.

Also, nearly half of Americans say the new healthcare reform measure is "not an improvement" on the current system, according to a poll.

During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump made repealing and replacing Obamacare one of his big priorities.

Despite expressing his frustration, Mr Trump said he was optimistic that his team would be able to craft an "even better" piece of healthcare legislation.

"Perhaps the best thing that could happen is exactly what happened today, because we'll end up with a truly great healthcare bill in the future after this mess known as Obamacare explodes," he said.

The Republicans' American Health Care Act has been a top priority for the party and was its first major legislative effort since it took control of both the White House and Congress in January.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi mocked Republicans over the setback.

She said: "Quite frankly I thought they might have accomplished something in the first few months. They have absolutely no record of accomplishment."

The bill would likely have left more people uninsured and would have made big changes to Medicaid, a federal-state health programme for low-income Americans.

The legislation would repeal much of former president Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law, including its requirement that people buy policies.

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