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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20 House Republicans plan to file a lawsuit late Tuesday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an effort to block the chamber's new proxy voting system amid the coronavirus pandemic, three congressional sources tell Axios.

The big picture: The lawsuit, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, alleges the rules are unconstitutional because the Constitution requires a quorum, or a majority, of lawmakers to be physically present in order to conduct business. The lawsuit was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from the novel coronavirus and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

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Why it matters: People older than 65 have the highest risk of dying from the virus, and outbreaks have been rampant in long-term care facilities. That is creating anxiety for seniors and their families.