Washington DC: Republican efforts to find a replacement for President Obama’s healthcare system have collapsed.
Two Republican senators said they opposed their party’s proposed alternative, making it impossible for the bill to pass in its current form.
The party has been divided on the issue, with moderates concerned about the effects on the most vulnerable.
President Trump has now called for repeal of Obamacare, so Republicans can start “from a clean slate”.
That task falls to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” Mr McConnell said.
What had been proposed?
President Trump had made repealing and replacing Obamacare, under which more than 20 million people gained healthcare coverage, a key campaign pledge.
Republicans view the 2010 legislation as an overreach of the federal government and say patients have less choice and higher premiums.
The party’s proposed alternative had kept key Obamacare taxes on the wealthy, while imposing sharp cuts to healthcare for the poor and allowing insurers to offer less coverage.
Why is Obamacare so controversial?
Obamacare v Republican plan compared
Why has it failed?
Two Republican senators, Mike Lee and Jerry Moran, said the new legislation did not go far enough in repealing Obamacare.
Mr Moran said “we should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy” while for Mr Lee, “in addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes [the bill] doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations”.
Two senators – Rand Paul and Susan Collins – had already opposed the bill. Mr Paul said the bill kept too much of the “ObamaCare taxes”, while Ms Collins expressed concerns about cuts to Medicaid.
With the two new opponents, Republicans – who hold 52 seats – no longer have enough votes to pass the bill in the 100-member Senate.
‘I owe my life to Obamacare’
Moderate Republicans had also said the bill would have harmed some of their vulnerable constituents.
The non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO) found the bill would have stripped 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next decade.
On top of that, polls had shown Obamacare remained popular among Americans – a survey by the Washington Post and ABC News on Monday found more than twice as many people preferred Mr Obama’s programme to the proposed alternative.