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Pence floats end of 2017 as new target for replacing Obamacare

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Vice President Mike Pence said he hopes Congress can pass legislation to replace Obamacare by the end of the year, a far longer timetable than President Donald Trump has envisioned.

[WASHINGTON] Vice President Mike Pence said he hopes Congress can pass legislation to replace Obamacare by the end of the year, a far longer timetable than President Donald Trump has envisioned.

Mr Pence, in an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," declined to say definitively when Mr Trump would be able to sign a new health care bill. but said he hopes it would be "before the end of the year."

"We're hopeful there'll be action in the House of Representatives soon," Mr Pence also said.

Mr Trump said April 20 that he believed he could get action on health care "whether it's next week or shortly thereafter."

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Repealing and replacing Obamacare was on Mr Trump's to-do list for his first 100 days in office, which ended on Saturday.

The new Republican strategy to replace Obamacare Republican leaders, under pressure from the White House, had been weighing whether to hold a vote last week, after conservative holdouts endorsed a revised bill.

But a number of moderate Republicans remained opposed to the measure, making it unclear whether it had enough votes to pass. Leaders were also distracted by the need to ensure passage of a stopgap measure to fund the government. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy left open the possibility to try again in the first week of May.

House Republicans have been examining a provision that would allow states to receive waivers on Obamacare's requirement to provide insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.

In exchange, states would need to provide high-risk pools that fund coverage for those people and insurers would be able to charge them higher premiums.

In a series of Twitter messages Sunday, Mr Trump said a "new healthcare plan is on its way" with "lower premiums & deductibles while at the same taking care of pre-existing conditions!"

He and Mr Pence continued to talk down the current law.

"ObamaCare is dead," Mr Trump said on Twitter Sunday and again on CBS. Mr Pence, on NBC, said Obamacare "is collapsing all across the country."

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