Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer has admitted that millions of Americans could lose access to healthcare if the Republicans are successful in repealing Obamacare.
Speaking at a White House press briefing, Mr Spicer defended plans to replace the Affordable Care Act, claiming a replacement would bring “a higher likelihood that [Americans] will find something that they want at a price they can afford”.
CNN’s Jim Acosta asked: “Would you concede that there will be some coverage losses, perhaps in the millions? That there will be millions of people who will not have health insurance as a result of what you're doing?"
Mr Spicer replied: “Sure, except you have to look at the current situation. You are mandated by law to buy insurance right now under Obamacare."
It came as independent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), similar to Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility, estimated that 14 million more people would be uninsured next year under the legislation than under under the current arrangement – a figure expected to rise to 24 million by 2026.
The findings are likely to strike a blow to Mr Trump’s administration, which has insisted that its plan to replace Obamacare will provide better and cheaper healthcare.
They are also likely to make it harder for Republicans to sell the plan - their first major piece of legislation under Mr Trump’s presidency - in Congress, especially the Senate.
Doctors, hospitals and other medical providers as well as patient advocates have urged lawmakers to abandon the plan.
Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he did not think the CBO report meant the end of the proposal.
“No matter what you do ... you’re going to have differences like that, and to be honest with you, I don’t think they truly looked at all the aspects,” he said.
Mr Spicer also disregarded the report, implying it was inaccurate.
"When you get down to it, the Congressional Budget Office is there to measure the potential impact of programs on the federal budget. Its attempts to estimate coverage have been historically faulty," he told reporters.
Democrats say the Republican plan could hurt the elderly, poor and working families while giving tax cuts for the rich. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it "a wreck".
"It's vintage Donald Trump: talks like a populist, but when he acts, it's hard-right, favouring the special interests and hurting the middle class and those trying to get there," Mr Schumer said.
Additional reporting by Reuters.Reuse content