On Friday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to kill the Affordable Care Act, which provides hundreds of thousands of Americans with health care coverage and protects people who suffer from preexisting conditions, as the Washington Post reported. The move comes the same day as the United States saw a record-breaking number of new cases of the novel coronavirus.
The government is arguing that Obamacare must be invalidated because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and so the rest of the program should be struck down. While a decision likely won’t be made until next year, the move comes at a time when many Americans are relying on the ACA to provide them with assistance during the pandemic that continues to grow in many parts of the country.
President Donald Trump has frequently been critical of former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation and pledged to dismantle it. While he has said that he would replace it with something different so that Americans could continue to receive protections for pre-existing conditions, the administration so far hasn’t championed any legislation to do so.
According to a recent report, nearly half a million Americans took advantage of a special enrollment opening that allowed them to sign up for coverage after millions of people lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a 46 percent increase from May and April last year to the same timeframe this year.
Meanwhile, House Democrats have moved to expand the ACA this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacted to the news of the White House’s attempt to dismantle the Obama-era policy.
“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” she said.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who has been critical of the president’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, has slammed the Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle the ACA and has noted that if the protections for people over preexisting conditions are removed, health care companies could conceivably consider COVID-19 a preexisting condition and use it to deny people coverage.
“Those survivors, having struggled and won the fight of their lives, would have their peace of mind stolen away at the moment they need it most,” Biden said. “They would live their lives caught in a vise between Donald Trump’s twin legacies: his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, and his heartless crusade to take health-care protections away from American families.”
The White House defended its move, saying that Americans believe Obamacare is a failure.