Republicans won a victory in their campaign to repeal and replace Obamacare by passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House on Thursday.
Former President Barack Obama responded to this development during a speech on Sunday night, in which he urged Congress to show "political courage" and save Obamacare, which the AHCA would replace.
During the speech, which was given at the John F. Kennedy Library where the former president was awarded the Profiles in Courage award, Obama said,
It is my fervent hope, and the hope of millions, that regardless of party, courage is still possible... I hope that current members of Congress recognize it actually doesn't take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm — those who have no access to the corridors of power.
"I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what's politically expedient, but doing what, deep in our hearts, we know is right," he added.
Obamacare, Obama's biggest legislative achievement, still remains the law of the land and AHCA will definitely face significant challenges in the Senate.
The bill is highly unpopular, even among Republicans, and critics feel it is extremely cruel.
In particular, there are concerns over the bill's impact on people with preexisting conditions, as it could lead to losses of coverage or huge increases in the cost of insurance for these individuals.
An analysis from the Congressional Budget Office found AHCA would lead to the loss of insurance for 24 million people by 2026.
Obamacare ultimately brought the uninsured rate to record lows in the US.
Since Obamacare was signed into law in 2010, the nation's uninsured rate fell by 7.2 percentage points from 16 percent, and roughly 20 million people gained health insurance between 2010 and 2016.
Democrats are not pleased with the bill's passage in the House, although they seem comforted by the thought that the bill is so unpopular it could unseat many Republicans in the 2018 midterms.
DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement on Thursday,
All Americans deserve fair access to the kind of health care services they desire and need. Today, Donald Trump and congressional Republicans launched a comprehensive assault on women's health, first through an Executive Order that makes it easier for employers to deny women coverage for contraception, and then through his healthcare bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, cuts access to abortion services, and eliminates the ACA's guarantees of access to maternity care and other critical women's health services. Women and the American people deserve better.
The bill narrowly passed in the House, 217-213, and Senate Republicans have expressed trepidations about what it contains and its chances of moving forward.