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Trump reacts to Senate health care bill’s defeat: “Let Obamacare implode … Watch!”

“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down.”

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

In the wake of the stunning defeat early Friday morning of the Senate’s last-ditch attempt to repeal parts of Obamacare, President Donald Trump is blaming the three Republican defectors and claiming he had the right strategy all along.

It’s a typical Trump reaction — and one that suggests the administration will try to prolong the uncertainty that’s already wreaked havoc on insurance markets.

“As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” the president tweeted:

That’s a change of heart from a few hours earlier, when he was cheering the Senate from the sidelines:

But it also suggests how the Trump administration might approach a law that, for now, is in less danger than it was earlier this week. Congressional Republicans appear unable to cohere around any kind of replacement plan. That means the future of Obamacare is in the administration’s hands.

They could choose to shore up the law and help people who purchase insurance on the individual market. For example, they could persuade insurers to go into counties at risk of having no insurance options by signaling support for the cost-sharing reduction subsidies that help insurers lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans.

Or the administration could undermine the law. The consequences, of course, aren’t limited to the political arena. They will be felt most keenly by the millions of Americans who depend on the insurance they get through the health care law.