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Trump says Obamacare is ‘DEAD’ following vote in Congress to repeal and replace health insurance law as key Republicans surround him for Rose Garden victory lap

President Donald Trump said Thursday that Obamacare is ‘dead,’ celebrating with Republican leaders from the House of Representatives after they squeaked out a close vote to replace the sputtering seven-year-old insurance law.

The GOP put Obamacare’s first foot in the grave on Thursday, passing a repeal-and-replace measure by the thinnest of margins as Democratic lawmakers taunted them with a chorus of ‘Na-na, Hey-hey, Goodbye!’

President Barack Obama’s namesake medical insurance reform is on its way to the dustbin. But so too, the Dems hope, will be the GOP majority after next year’s midterm congressional elections.

‘We knew that wasn’t going to work,’ Trump said of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, whose cost structure has proved suffocating for medical insurers – and for consumers stuck with a dwindling number of even-more-expensive policy options.

‘I predicted it a long time ago. I said, "It’s failing." And now it’s obvious that it’s failing,’ the president boasted in the White House’s Rose Garden.

‘It’s dead. It’s essentially dead. If we don’t pay lots of ransom money over to the insurance companies, it would die immediately.’

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President Donald Trump took a victory lap in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, saying Obamacare is ‘dead’ and its GOP-led replacement will bring down consumers’ medical insurance premiums and deductibles Dozens of Republican House members joined the president on the steps outside the Oval Office an hour after the vote took place at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue The American Health Care Act, which repeals and replaces the 2010 Obamacare law, passed a House vote on Thursday and will next go to the U.S. Senate After squabbling internally for weeks about details and legislative language, the GOP came together enough to rally 217 ‘yea’ votes

Trump emerged from the Oval Office to cheers, facing dozens of Republican lawmakers and turning to greet them with arms open wide, like a conductor acknowledging his orchestra for a curtain call.

‘We suffered through Obamacare,’ he said, promising that ‘yes, premiums will be coming down. Yes, deductibles will be coming down.’

In a hastily called vote following the adoption of a controversial amendment allowing some states to seek exemptions from coverage mandates, a 217-213 tally sent the American Health Care Act to the U.S. Senate, where even more changes are expected.

But Trump said, ‘I feel so confident’ that the next round will also end in victory.

‘We’re gonna get this passed through the Senate,’ the president said as House Speaker Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans and administration officials watched and cheered.

Ryan urged lawmakers to fall in line, saying that they should ‘return power from Washington to the states. Let’s help give people peace of mind.’

‘We can continue with this status quo, or we can put this collapsing law behind us,’ he said, referring to the Affordable Care Act – which gave the nation Obamacare.

‘End this failed experiment,’ he said to cheers from Republicans on the House floor. ‘Let’s make it easier for people to afford their health insurance.’

Ryan had become the week’s most high-wattage lightning rod on the political right, catching grief for what looked to be a failure of leadership as factions split off and declared they wouldn’t support the American Health Care Act.

He ‘has been treated unfairly,’ Trump said Thursday, ‘but it no longer matters – because we won.’

‘For the last week,’ the president joked, ‘I’ve been hearing, "Paul Ryan doesn’t have it. It’s not working with Paul Ryan. He’s going to get rid of Paul Ryan".’

‘Then today I heard, "Paul Ryan’s a genius! He’s come along".’

North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, ringleader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, joked at the podium that with right-versus-center wrangling out of the way and the vote over, he can count on a few long nights of sleep.

‘Mr. President, and Mr. Vice President, for those late night calls – I’m glad that I’ll get some rest,’ he said.

Trump leaned over to Ryan, chuckling: ‘It’s true!’

Trump turned to face his fellow Republicans and saluted them like a conductor acknowledging his orchestra House Speaker Paul Ryan was the last member to speak before his colleagues voted on Trumpcare 2.0, and the first one to talk after the president took his Rose Garden victory lap

Trump, the loudest cheerleader advocating for the bill, had reminded Americans on Twitter that ‘insurance companies are fleeing ObamaCare – it is dead. Our healthcare plan will lower premiums & deductibles – and be great healthcare!’

After promising a Rose Garden celebration following the afternoon vote – ‘If victorious’ – he delayed his departure from the White House for New York City by a few hours.

Earlier in the afternoon the White House seemed to be hedging all bets, with press deputy Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters that the change of schedule was due to unspecified ‘meetings’ that had nothing to do with the congressional vote.

But the delay will push back his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, something the administration would not approach lightl.’y.

‘The president recognizes what a problem Obamacare is, and that it has to be fixed,’ Sanders said, departing from the usual caution about confusing a ‘fix’ with a ‘repeal.’

‘Obamacare’s simply unsustainable,’ Sanders added. ‘I think even Democrats have started to recognize that we can’t continue on the path that we’re on, and this is our moment and our time to fix it. So let’s do it, let’s do it right, and let’s do it now.’

‘Na-na, Hey-hey’: Democrats on the House floor sang ‘Goodbye’ to Republicans after Thursday’s vote, hoping out loud that the legislation will cost them their majority next year Loyal opposition: Protesters gathered Thursday in New York City near the USS Intrepid, where the president will speak in the evening

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was Speaker of the House when the Obamacare law was passed more than seven years ago, lashed out at a party-line vote that resembled the 2010 tally when she cobbled together a victory with zero Republican support.

The bill, she said Thursday, ‘forces families to pay higher premiums and deductibles, increasing out of pockets costs. Higher costs for less coverage. Trumpcare will take away healthcare from more than 24 million hard-working Americans.’

Republicans took the proposal back to the drawing board in late March after meeting with an unexpected revolt from within their own ranks.

Pelosi complained Thursday that version 2.0 drifted further to the fringe.

‘As bad as Trumpcare was the first time around – it was dead, it died, it died right here on the floor – now it’s come back to life like a zombie,’ she fretted.

‘Even more scary than before. And it is even worse.’

Victorious: Ryan strode to his office in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday after watching a nail-biter vote end with just enough support to pass the AHCA Scorned: Pelosi warned Republicans that they would ‘glow in the dark’ because they decided to ‘walk the plank’ for a manipulative president

Pelosi warned Republicans that they were ‘walking the plank’ for a president whose main goal is to dispense with healthcare legislation so he can move on to a tax reform package that Democrats loathe even more.

‘Most Americans don’t know who their member of Congress is. But they will now when they find out that he voted to take away their health care,’ she hissed. ‘So, I think you have to get ready for that.’

‘You will glow in the dark on this one. You will glow in the dark,’ she predicted.

President Trump was watching Democrats argue against his health care bill on the House floor minutes before the vote, and promised a Rose Garden victory lap just before the vote was opened to members of the House of Representatives

Republican leaders decided to risk pushing ahead for a vote without waiting for a new score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that would reveal what it would cost and how the latest version might impact the number of Americans who will have medical insurance.

‘Forcing a vote without a CBO score shows that Republicans are terrified of the public learning the full consequences of their plan to push Americans with pre-existing conditions into the cold,’ Pelosi said in a statement in advance of the vote.

Some Republicans also expressed hesitation about rushing ahead before next week’s congressional recess.

‘That’s why I was one of the holdouts in the first go around,’ Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina told CNN. ‘It has been a truncated process. I think it’s not what a lot of us would have liked to have seen from a standpoint of a more robust debate, but we are where we are.’

Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, a lead sponsor of the amendment incorporating final changes, indicated that he would have preferred a score.

But he backed the bill anyway, ‘because I don’t expect it probably for a couple weeks,’ the Hill reported.

Trump and Republicans have long vowed to kill off President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, but it wasn’t until late Wednesday that the House GOP looked to have the votes.

President Trump will make the most of his symbolic victory on Thursday before going to New York for a speech aboard a battleship President Trump tweeted a CNBC story Thursday morning that reported Aetna would be leaving the Virginia Obamacare market over expected losses on individual plans House Speaker Paul Ryan scheduled a vote for Thursday afternoon, secure in the knowledge that the GOP House bill would (barely) pass

Ryan was forced to pull the original American Health Care Act in March, as too many Republicans defected.

This bill is expected to hit major potholes once it goes to the Senate.

While Democrat after Democrat lined up and spoke on the House floor throughout Thursday

A day ago the situation again looked dire with a number of House Republican moderates peeling away from the plan over concerns the Obamacare replacement would not adequately cover individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Moderate Republicans including Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Billy Long of Missouri met with Trump at the White House Wednesday and proposed an $8 billion fund over five years that would help people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage.

The president green-lit the idea and these moderates moved to the yes column.

Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, spoke to reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump on health care reform

‘Today we’re here announcing that with this addition that we brought to the president, and sold him on in over an hour long meeting in here with him, that we’re both yesses on the bill,’ Long told reporters at the White House of the decision he and Upton made.

The new version of the American Health Care Act would let states obtain waivers allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to patients with pre-existing conditions, if those individuals allow their insurance to lapse for more than two months.

The current law, the Affordable Care Act, doesn’t allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for their coverage even if they choose to be uninsured for extended periods of time.

Waivers would only be given to states that fund a high-risk pool to make those policies more affordable.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the Republican health care bill ‘cruel’ and said her House GOP colleagues will ‘tattoo this moral monstrosity to their foreheads’

Opponents of the plan believe there simply won’t be enough money to offset the cost of changing the law – even with the $8 billion added.

So far a number of medical groups have come out in opposition to the bill, with Pelosi reading a laundry list of them from the House floor: the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, AIDS United, the Children’s Hospital Association, AARP and the March of Dimes.

When the Congressional Budget Office scored the original GOP bill in March, it found 24 million Americans would be without medical insurance during the following 10 years – mostly young, healthy people who would be uninsured by choice.

It would also, however, have reduced the federal deficit by $337 billion over the same time period, a Republican-friendly proposition.

Just one member of the House, Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of the state of Washington, failed to cast a ballot. Twenty Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting ‘no.’