US President Donald Trump has retreated on his plan to introduce a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act after GOP Senator Mitch McConnell privately warned him that the upper chamber of Congress would not revisit health care before the 2020 presidential elections.
Trump, a Republican, has repeatedly sought to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which was approved in 2010 by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
He made the shift in a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday, saying that the “vote will be taken right after the election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House.”
The president made the abrupt reversal after talking with McConnell, ensuring that health care will take a central place in next year’s US presidential election campaign, elevating an issue Democrats consider one of their strengths.
“I made it clear to him that we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader, told reporters on Tuesday. “He did say, as he later tweeted, that he accepted that and that he would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people during the 2020 campaign.”
Trump’s last attempt to replace Obama’s health care program failed in 2017 when his party was the majority in both chambers of Congress.
Democrats took control of the US House of Representative in last year’s midterm congressional elections in part on a promise to defend the most popular parts of Obamacare.
Democrats, consumer groups, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies have said that 20 million people could lose health coverage if Obamacare is repealed without a viable alternative.
Healthcare experts from across the political spectrum have said that Trump’s healthcare plan is unworkable, suffers from fatal flaws and could lead to millions of Americans dropping out of the healthcare market.
US Senator Bernie Sanders, who has announced he is running for president again in the 2020 elections, said last week that "thousands of people will literally die" if Trump dismantles the Affordable Care Act.