During that election year, Democrat candidates across the country made the ACA’s survival a political issue, as Business Insider reported; as a result, they led to what many news reports, such as Politico, described as a “blue wave.”
Joe Biden’s Ad, ‘Personal,’ Accuses Trump of Wanting to Eliminate the Affordable Care Act
The political ad, “Personal,” features Joe Biden’s personal relationship with healthcare. The ad mentions his first wife, Neilia Hunter, and their daughter, Naomi, died in a car accident in 1972, Oprah magazine reported. It also mentions his son, Beau’s battle with brain cancer, which he fought until his death in 2015, as PBS reported.
Here is a transcript of the ad:
I was sworn into the United States Senate next to a hospital bed. My wife and daughter, they’d been killed in a car crash. And lying in that bed were my two surviving little boys. I couldn’t imagine what it would’ve been like if we didn’t have the health care they need immediately.
Forty years later, one of those little boys, my son, Beau, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only months to live. I can’t fathom what would’ve happened if the insurance companies had said, for the last six months of his life, “you’re on your own.”
The fact of the matter is, health care is personal to me. Obamacare is personal to me. And when I see the President try to tear it down, and others propose we replace it and start over, that’s personal to me, too.
We’ve got to build on what we did because every American deserves and Affordable Care Act.
Biden has been very protective of the ACA, telling Obama that its passage was “a big f***ing deal” which The Guardian reported he said after failing to realize that his microphone was on.
On his campaign platform, Biden has promised to improve the ACA by adding a public health insurance option, increasing tax credits to Americans making less than a certain amount of money and reducing drug corporation exceptions.
Republicans Have Pledged to Repeal the Act Multiple Times
Republicans first pledged to repeal the ACA immediately after it passed and several years thereafter, as NHPR reported.
Republicans had complaints about how the act was passed — rammed through without any bipartisan support on a 219-178 (Democrat-Wisconsin) vote, as GovTrack reported — as well as the individual mandate, which forced even those who didn’t need health insurance to pay a fee to support others. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Republicans also are not fans of the federal government getting involved in health insurance.
According to the Washington Post, conservatives also believe that the law provides too many unemployed Medicaid recipients with insurance and “conservatives object that ACA benefits are funded largely by taxes on the wealthy” compared to social security (which working Americans pay into overtime).
However, Republicans have voted at least 70 times to repeal the law and all votes have failed, even during the years when both houses of Congress were under Republican control, as Newsweek reported. McConnell famously refused to hold a vote on the issue in 2017, as CNN reported.
Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that public opinion may have reduced the Republicans’ desire to eliminate the ACA over time. Public opinion has shifted from more Americans being unfavorable of it to more Americans being more favorable — in July of 2014, 55% of voters opposed the law and 36% of Americans favored it compared to 51% who approved it in July of 2020.
After the failures, Trump said, “Obamacare, unfortunately, will explode. It’s going to have a very bad year,” according to The New York Times. He then added that he expects Democrats to eventually try and negotiate a new bill with him.
The Legality of the Affordable Care Act Has Been Called into Question
Legal arguments over the constitutionality of the ACA will be heard before the Supreme Court on November 10, one week after the election is held.
In 2017, Trump’s tax bill eliminated the individual mandate that assessed a fee on Americans who opted-out of paying for any health insurance, The Hill reported. The attorney generals of states with Republican governors filed lawsuits declaring that parts of the ACA related to that fee were unconstitutional. A Texas district court struck down the ACA and stayed its ruling in a case that has ascended all the way to the Supreme Court.
Here is what Biden wrote on his campaign platform about Trump and other Republicans’ efforts to repeal the ACA:
From the time right before the Affordable Care Act’s key coverage-related policies went into effect to the last full year of the Obama-Biden Administration, 2016, the number of Americans lacking health insurance fell from 44 million to 27 million – an almost 40% drop. But President Trump’s persistent efforts to sabotage Obamacare through executive action, after failing in his efforts to repeal it through Congress, have started to reverse this progress. Since 2016, the number of uninsured Americans has increased by roughly 1.4 million.
In 2019, The Associated Press reported that although Trump had promised a “much less expensive and much better” alternative, no such alternative has appeared.
Spokesperson Judd Deere told the AP that Trump had signed a “Right-to-Try” Act that means Americans with fatal diseases can access unapproved treatments, improving America’s kidney donation process and signed an executive order intended to reduce prescription drug prices.
The Next Supreme Court Nominee Could Vote on the Affordable Care Act
A simple majority is all that is needed to confirm a Supreme Court justice and the Republican advantage in the Senate means that Democrats have little political power to prevent Republicans from nominating and confirming a new Supreme Court Justice. Consequently, they are trying to turn the tide of public opinion against a Republican-nominated judge by claiming that such a justice would strike down the ACA.
Here is part of a speech Oregon Senator Ron Wyden delivered on the Senate floor:
If you don’t trust Republicans with your health care, you cannot trust Republicans with this Supreme Court seat.
Donald Trump and his Justice Department are suing to have the entire Affordable Care Act thrown out – every last bit of it.
The ironclad, guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions – gone. Bans on discrimination against women – gone. The ban on annual and lifetime limits – gone. Coverage for young people on their parents’ plans – gone. Guaranteed, essential benefits for all with coverage – gone. No-cost contraceptives for women – gone. Cheaper prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare – gone. Medicaid coverage for millions and millions of Americans – gone.
That’s the Trump agenda on the Affordable Care Act – ripping it out by the roots, no matter how much pain it inflicts on the American people. It’d be directly back to the dark days when health care in America was reserved for the healthy and the wealthy, because those are the people Donald Trump fights for as president.
In 2017, the president tried and failed to get the Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so now he’s trying to do it at the Supreme Court. The case Trump’s DOJ is bringing to the Court, along with dozens of Republican state Attorneys General, is legal nonsense. But that might not matter to far-right activist judges who would seize this opportunity to hand a big victory to insurance companies, drug makers and other special interests at the expense of individual people.
“Why the president is in such a rush is because he’s in a hurry to overturn the Affordable Care Act. And he wants to do that,” Pelosi said on September 22, according to The Hill. “The oral arguments start November 10, a week after the election, and he wants to get a justice in there in time for that so they can hear the arguments and vote on it.”
According to Policy Advice, 23 million Americans are currently covered under the ACA, all of whom would lose coverage without a replacement.