US Congress sends bill to gut Obamacare, to certain veto

House GOP Puts Bill To Defund Obamacare On Obama's Desk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. Congress on Wednesday approved legislation dismantling President Barack Obama's signature health care plan, putting on his desk an election-year measure that faces a certain veto.

Republicans have been vowing to gut the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," since 2010, when the then Democratic-majority Congress passed the landmark program designed to provide health care for millions of uninsured Americans - over the united opposition of Republicans.

The House has voted to dismantle Obamacare dozens of times, but Republicans were unable to get a repeal measure through the Senate until late last year, when they used a procedural maneuver denying Democrats' ability to block the legislation.

SEE ALSO: The 'biggest threat yet' to Obamacare could soon be carried out by Democrats

The Republican-run House of Representatives finalized passage on Wednesday on a 240-181 vote, sending the bill to the White House. Republican leaders are expected to try to override Obama's promised veto, but they lack the two-thirds majority needed to do so.

The bill would also take funds away from Planned Parenthood, another target of Republicans after undercover videos showed officials of the women's healthcare provider discussing the sale of fetus parts for research.

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US Congress sends bill to gut Obamacare, to certain veto
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 15: A person walks into the UniVista Insurance company office where people are signing up for health care plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, on December 15, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Today, is the deadline to sign up for a plan under the Affordable Care Act for people that want to be insured on January 1, 2016. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks about healthcare reforms and the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, during the Catholic Hospital Association Conference in Washington, DC, June 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health care subsidies for as many as eight million people. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Protestors hold placards challenging 'Obamacare' outside of the US Supreme Court on March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court faces a momentous case Wednesday on the sweeping health insurance reform law that President Barack Obama wants to leave as part of his legacy. The question before the court is whether the seven million people or more who subscribed via the government's website can obtain tax subsidies that make the coverage affordable. A ruling is expected in June. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health care subsidies for as many as eight million people. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks about healthcare reforms and the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, during the Catholic Hospital Association Conference in Washington, DC, June 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Five-year-old James Cook of Cleveland, Ohio, participates in a rally to support the Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S Supreme Court March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health care subsidies for as many as eight million people. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health care subsidies for as many as eight million people. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Democrats scoffed at the Obamacare repeal, with Representative Chris van Hollen saying Obama would veto it in a "nanosecond." But Republicans insisted passing the bill was important to keep a promise to their political base.

SEE ALSO: Ted Cruz blasts Washington Post cartoon of daughters as monkeys

"We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth. Obamacare doesn't work," House Speaker Paul Ryan said. Republicans intend to propose a replacement, but for it to become law, "ultimately, this is going to require a Republican president," Ryan said.

Some plans sold via Obamacare insurance exchanges have been struggling with weak enrollment, higher-than-expected medical costs and increased premiums.

But Democrats say the law has insured more Americans and is helping slow the growth in health care spending. The government estimated over 9.1 million people were enrolled for health care through the program at the end of 2015.

Any repeal of Obamacare would phase out an expansion of Medicaid healthcare benefits for the poor and eliminate health insurance subsidies for millions of Americans.

But it would save money. The Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would reduce the deficit by $516 billion over 10 years.

SEE ALSO: Budget bill limits new food advice, edited humans, GM salmon

Republicans were unapologetic about proposing to shrink Medicaid, saying it needs reform. "Under Obamacare, millions of Americans have been added to a Medicaid system that is already failing to provide its beneficiaries with adequate access to physicians and treatments," said Representative Tom Price.

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