Mar 23, 2020 - Health

Biden calls on Trump to drop ACA case in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Joe Biden at the March 15 Democratic presidential debate. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a letter Monday to President Trump and other conservatives challenging the Affordable Care Act that the novel coronavirus outbreak shows why they should drop their legal case.

Why it matters: The 2020 candidate sent the letter on the 10th anniversary of former President Obama signing the act into law. Biden suggested the lawsuit they're supporting threatens protections the ACA provides at a time when Americans are "anxious and afraid about the impact the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is already having on their lives, their families, and their ability to pay their bills."

"At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance and protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions."
— Excerpt from Biden's letter

The big picture: The Supreme Court announced early this month it would hear the challenge later this year — possibly not until just before or after the 2020 presidential election in November.

  • The lawsuit argues that the entire ACA should be struck down, "including its most popular provisions, like its pre-existing conditions protections," Axios' Caitlin Owens notes.

The other side: Trump said at a Fox News town hall Scranton, Pennsylvania, this month he wants to "terminate Obamacare because it’s bad."

  • "[W]e]re running it really well, but we know it’s defective, he said, adding that Texas is "trying to terminate" the legislation and replace it with "something that's much better.  He didn't elaborate further, but he added: "And they’ve all pledged that preexisting conditions, 100% taken care of."

Read the letter:

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The Supreme Court’s next big Affordable Care Act case could be a huge political problem for President Trump.

Why it matters: The Trump administration will spend the next several months urging the court to strip away some 20 million people’s health insurance and to throw out protections for pre-existing conditions. And it may all come to a head just before Election Day.

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Health care has become the framework that defines the broader ideological and stylistic divisions within the Democratic primary — a contest between political revolution and Medicare for All vs. bipartisan compromise and a public option.

Yes, but: It's kind of a false choice. Passing either of those health care plans would require a knock-down, drag-out party-line brawl just as intense as the fight over the Affordable Care Act.

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