Republicans defend healthcare plan

Republicans are defending their plan to dismantle the Obamacare healthcare reform after a nonpartisan research report showed 14 million Americans would lose medical insurance by next year under the proposal even as it reduces the budget deficit.

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The US Congressional Budget Office report on Monday forecast that by 2026, the number of people without health insurance would increase by 24 million if the House of Representatives’ legislation to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act is adopted.

The findings could make it harder for Republicans to sell the plan – their first major piece of legislation under Republican President Donald Trump – in Congress, especially the Senate.

The Trump administration defended the proposed healthcare overhaul, saying it will offer consumers more choices than Obamacare, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.

Congressional Republicans have vowed for years to undo Obamacare, which expanded health insurance to about 20 million Americans.

But their new effort faces opposition from a range of Republicans – from conservatives who think it does not go far enough to moderates concerned about the impact on coverage and costs.

Doctors, hospitals and other medical providers as well as patient advocates have urged lawmakers to abandon the plan.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney dismissed CBO’s ability to analyse healthcare coverage and said the focus should not be on how many people are insured.

In one assessment that might convince more Senate Republicans to back the bill, the CBO said federal deficits would fall by $US337 billion ($A445 billion) between 2017 and 2026 under the measure.

Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare and provide insurance for everybody, has yet to comment on the report.

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 said it “is a wreck.”