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Trump threatens to end insurance company payments unless 'Obamacare' goes

President Donald Trump has again threatened to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era healthcare law.

In apparent frustration over Friday's failure by the Senate Republican majority to pass a bill repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, Mr Trump tweeted: "If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!"

No Democrats voted for the bill.

Repeal-and-replace has been a goal for Republicans ever since President Barack Obama enacted the law in 2010.

That aim, which was one of Mr Trump's top campaign promises, remains out of reach even with Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress. The issue has dominated the opening months of his presidency.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the bill failed early on Friday that he would move to other legislative business in the upcoming week.

The subsidies are required under the law. They total about 7 billion dollars a year and help reduce deductibles and co-payments for consumers with modest incomes.

But the payments are the subject of a lawsuit brought by House Republicans over whether the law specifically included a congressional appropriation for the money, as required under the constitution.

Mr Trump has only guaranteed the payments throughout this month, which ends on Monday.

Mr Trump previously said the law that he and others call Obamacare would stop immediately whenever those payments stop.

The Senate's Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said such a step will make healthcare even more expensive.

"If the president refuses to make the cost-sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and healthcare will be more expensive for millions of Americans," Mr Schumer said.

"The president ought to stop playing politics with people's lives and healthcare, start leading and finally begin acting presidential."

AP

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