Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden attacked President Trump on Thursday for his legal efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act even amid the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “cruel” and “heartless.”
“I think it’s cruel, it’s heartless, it’s callous and it’s all because in my view he can’t abide the thought of letting stand one of President Obama’s greatest achievements, the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said in a speech in Lancaster, Pa.
“I cannot comprehend the cruelty that’s driving him to inflict this pain on the very people he’s supposed to serve,” he said.
The speech was timed to coincide with the deadline on Thursday for the Trump administration to file its legal brief in the Supreme Court in support of a lawsuit brought by GOP-led states seeking to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act.
The former VP’s campaign and Democrats more broadly, who had already seized on the GOP lawsuit, are now linking it to the coronavirus crisis, saying people should not lose their health coverage during a pandemic. Democrats won back the House in 2018 in large part because of their focus on health care and are now repeating the emphasis in 2020.
Biden said people recovering from the coronavirus “would have their peace of mind stolen at that moment they needed it most,” if the lawsuit succeeds and they lost their health coverage.
About 20 million people could lose coverage if the ACA were overturned.
Biden also slammed Trump directly on his handling of the virus, including his recent remarks worrying that too much testing makes the country look bad.
Biden called for more testing, and said Trump was only looking out for himself.
“He’s like a child who can’t believe this has happened to him,” Biden said.
On his own health care proposal, Biden offered a few details, such as increasing subsidies to make premiums more affordable under the ACA and adding an optional government-run insurance plan or “public option.”
“We need a public option now more than ever,” he said, adding more details of the plan would come in the coming weeks.
House Democrats, also seizing on the Trump-backed lawsuit, will vote on a bill to increase subsidies and expand the ACA next week, though their bill does not include a public option.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the press earlier on Thursday that “health care for all Americans” would be the top policy priority in 2021 if Democrats win the House, Senate and White House, though she did not offer details.