Mike Pence says Republicans will keep their promise to 'repeal and replace' Obamacare

Donald Trump said the programme 'will fall of its own weight', and urged Republicans to 'be careful'

Mike Pence says Republicans will keep their promise to 'repeal and replace' Obamacare

Picture by Gerald Herbert AP/Press Association Images

Republicans and Democrats in Washington are meeting separately in Washington today to discuss the future of the controversial 'Obamacare' healthcare programme.

President Barack Obama is addressing his party's senators and representatives over his signature healthcare programme, while Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with Republican congressional leaders.

Pence insisted their first order of business will be to 'repeal & replace' the legislation.

Obamacare - or the Affordable Care Act - has led to an estimated 20 million people gaining health insurance having previously been unable to afford it.

However, it has also faced severe opposition since its inception - including from Republicans, trade unions and small business groups. It remains a divisive programme among voters, and concerns remain over its affordability.

The ACA will almost certainly be repealed under President-elect Trump and the Republican-majority Congress, although uncertainty remains over a timescale and replacement for the act.

President-elect Trump pledged to fully repeal the Act during the election campaign, but has since suggested some parts of the programme may be kept - such as guarantees for people with pre-existing health conditions.

In a series of tweets today, he called on Republicans to be 'careful' over the 'Obamacare disaster', saying Democrats 'are to blame for the mess'.

It is unlikely Democrats will be able to protect the controversial legislation, but Politico reports they are preparing a 'messaging battle to make Republicans feel the squeeze' as they move to dismantle the programme. They are also likely to attempt to delay and disrupt the repeal and replacement efforts.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to stop 'clowning around' with America's healthcare.