Justices Signal They Won’t Repeal ACA, Biden Promises to Expand Healthcare Access

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden listens as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris addresses the media about the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act on November 10, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. Mr. Biden also answered questions about the process of the transition and how a Biden Administration would work with Republicans. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Elle Meyers

November 10, 2020

“This doesn’t have to be a partisan issue, it’s a human issue,” Biden said. “It affects every single American family, we can’t subvert the growing consensus.” 

As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President-elect Joe Biden vowed to expand the law and get more Americans access to health care. 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spoke before Biden on Tuesday, and pointed out that Republican efforts to repeal the healthcare law comes in the middle of a pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans. She also added that Biden’s clear victory over President Donald Trump was a referendum on the ACA.

“Our country had a clear choice in this election, each and every vote for Joe Biden was a statement that healthcare in America should be a right and not a privilege,” Harris said. “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.” 

Biden explained that despite multiple GOP attempts to repeal the law, the Supreme Court has upheld it twice.

“This case represents the latest attempt by the far right ideologues to do what they’ve repeatedly failed to do for a long time in the courts, in Congress, and the court of public opinion over the last decade to eliminate the entirety of the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said. “Twice already the Supreme Court has upheld the landmark law.” 

On Tuesday, at least five justices on the Supreme Court expressed support for the ACA. Their comments indicated that they would vote to reject the latest court case against the program which has been supported by the Trump Administration. 

Chief Justice John Roberts said it was hard for lawyers to argue that “Congress intended the entire act to fall …when the same Congress that lowered the penalty [for not having insurance coverage] to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act.”

“I think, frankly, that they wanted the court to do that,” Roberts said. “But that’s not our job.”

In the past, public opinion on the ACA was largely divided on partisan lines. But its favorability has increased in recent years: In 2020, more than half of the American public has a favorable opinion of the ACA, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. The degree to which people like the healthcare law is however, still partisan. Eighty-five percent of Democrats view the ACA favorably, compared with 59% of Independents and just 18% of Republicans. 

“[But] this doesn’t have to be a partisan issue, it’s a human issue,” Biden said. “It affects every single American family, we can’t subvert the growing consensus.” 

Harris said that efforts to remove the healthcare program are “a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the people.” 

Biden noted that taking away the ACA or repealing parts of it could make it more difficult for Americans to get coverage, especially those who caught and survived COVID-19.  

“Complications from COVID-19 like lung scarring and heart damage could be the next flood of pre-existing conditions that could be used as an excuse to jack up premiums or deny coverage altogether,” he said. 

Biden went on to vow to work in Congress to expand the ACA and provide more Americans with coverage.  

“We’re going to fight for your family’s health coverage the same way we fight for our own family. What every single American needs to know that if you’re sick, if you’re struggling, if you’re worried about how you’re going to get through the day, we will not abandon you,” Biden said.  That’s a promise.” 


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