05:08 GMT30 March 2020
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    Outgoing President Barack Obama rallied on Wednesday fellow Democrats in US Congress against Republicans for battle over healthcare issue.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Obama headed to Capitol Hill on the first full day of the 115th US Congress to rally fellow Democrats for battle against Republicans, who have vowed to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare law their first order of business, lawmakers told reporters at a news conference following a morning session with the president on Wednesday.

    "The president asked us, ‘are you ready, do you have the fight in you,’ House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi quoted Obama as saying. "He didn’t need to ask us that question."

    Pelosi was joined by lawmakers from both houses of Congress, including her counterpart in the US Senate, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who characterized health care as the new Congress’ "first big fight."

    Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, plan to scuttle Obamacare and then begin drafting legislation to revamp the entire US health care system.

    Democrats demanded that Republicans first write a new health care law before scuttling the Obamacare, which has made health insurance available to 20 million uninsured Americans.

    "Instead of working to further insure affordable care for all Americans, they [Republicans] seek to rip health care away from millions of Americans," Schumer said.

    Republicans planned to reveal their plans for healthcare later in the day. But Vice President-elect Mike Pence indicated earlier that Americans would be protected during the transition from Obamacare to a new system.

    Repeal of Obamacare, he said during a separate news conference, would coincide with a series of executive orders issued by President-elect Donald Trump that would keep many features of Obamacare in place as Congress works on a replacement.

    "We don’t want people to be caught with nothing," Pence explained. We want to make sure… that the rug is not pulled out from under the families who are currently struggling under Obamacare."

    At issue are soaring insurance premiums under Obamacare, set up exchanges where people who lack employer-provided coverage can purchase individual and family policies.

    Insurance companies exited many exchanges after losing hundreds of millions of dollars in 2016. With less competition premiums soared in 2017, more than doubling in the US state of Arizona and with increases of more than 50 percent in other states.

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    healthcare, Obamacare, US Capitol, Barack Obama, United States
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