President-elect Joe Biden warned Tuesday that the Trump administration’s ongoing attempt to strike down the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, would be a disaster for the millions of Americans who depend on the law.
“The consequences of the Trump administration’s argument are not academic or abstraction. For many Americans, they are a matter of life and death in the literal sense,” said Biden in his second speech in as many days from the Queen theatre in Wilmington, Del.
Biden was introduced by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who said the election had amounted to a referendum on the law.
“Each and every vote for Joe Biden was a vote to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act, not to tear it away in the midst of a global pandemic,” the California Democrat said. “And Joe Biden won the election decisively.”
Biden’s remarks came in response to a new Supreme Court battle over the ACA. On Tuesday morning, the court heard arguments from the Trump administration, which is contending that the decade-old law is unconstitutional.
This is the third time the Affordable Care Act has come before the Supreme Court. If the high court strikes down the law, some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage. Democrats also warned that Americans who have contracted COVID-19 may be unable to find new insurance if the law, which guarantees coverage for those with preexisting conditions, is tossed out.
More than 10 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus and more than 239,000 have died. Those numbers are expected to climb substantially amid fears of an even deadlier second wave hitting the U.S.
“I will protect your health care like I protect my own family. We’ve unfortunately been big consumers of that,” Biden said, a reference to his late son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015. Biden added that he would endeavour to expand the ACA and lower the price of prescription drugs.
Republicans have long promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a health care plan of their own that would protect those with preexisting conditions. However, the Trump administration never introduced such a plan despite the president’s frequent promises over the past several years that he would unveil one soon.
Court watchers on Tuesday said that, based on the questions asked by the justices, it appeared the Supreme Court was reluctant to overturn the ACA despite its 6-3 conservative majority.
Biden also took several questions about President Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential race despite clearly losing the election. Biden said he had not yet talked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is poised to become the most powerful Republican in Washington when the new administration takes power in January, but that he expects he will soon.
The president-elect said he felt Republicans on Capitol Hill, the vast majority of whom have yet to admit that he won the election, we’re still “mildly intimidated” by Trump and unwilling to cross him.
He had harsher words for the president himself.
“It’s an embarrassment, quite frankly. … I think it will not help the president’s legacy,” Biden said of Trump’s attempts to contest the election’s results.