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The aim for repealing and replacing Obamacare made by US President Donald Trump may finally be gaining traction. A GOP-led healthcare bill is expected to make its way through the Senate shortly after Independence Day, setting the stage for a battle on Capitol Hill.

Troubles with Trump healthcare reform

However, passing healthcare reform won’t be easy. Several Republican lawmakers have already declared their opposition to the bill. In a divided Senate, that’s enough to prevent the legislation from being passed.

Among those who oppose the bill are Senators Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) have also announced their opposition to the bill.

“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” a joint statement from Cruz, Paul and Lee said last month. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system but it does not appear this draft, as written, will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”[1]

Trump promises surprise

However, their opposition hasn’t deterred President Trump from promising a “big surprise” on health reform.

“Healthcare is working along very well. We could have a big surprise with a great healthcare package,” Trump said earlier this week.

When asked to elaborate, the president replied, “I said you’re gonna have a great, great surprise. It’s gonna be great.”[2]

The official Senate vote has been postponed until after the 4 July Independence Day recess. The delay sends a strong signal that Trump does not yet have the votes to repeal Obamacare. Given the current opposition to the bill, getting Senate approval may prove difficult in the days ahead.

Despite legislative uncertainty, health stocks have performed surprisingly well in recent weeks. The S&P 500’s healthcare index returned nearly 6% for June. By comparison, the large-cap S&P 500 Index gained only 1% on the month.[3]

A failure to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act would be a swift blow to the Trump administration, which has struggled to implement its pro-growth agenda since coming to office on 20 January. Controversy over Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election has also dogged the administration, which continues to fend off criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

[1] Brooke Singman (23 June 2017). “Senate health care bill: 5th Republican senator comes out against GOP plan.” FOX News Politics.
[2] Marlsa Schultz, Gabby Morronglello and Bob Fredericks (28 June 2017). “Trump promises ‘big surprise’ on GOP health care plan.” New York Post.
[3] Fidelity. S&P 500 Sectors & Industries Overview.

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