Biden warns that Trump's Supreme Court pick could end health care protections 'in the midst of a pandemic'

David Knowles
·Editor
·4 mins read

Joe Biden warned Saturday that Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, would help dismantle the Affordable Care Act if she is confirmed by the Senate.

In a statement issued as Trump was introducing Barrett in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, Biden noted that she had taken aim at the health care law put in place when he was vice president.

“She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said in his statement. “She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012.”

In 2017, Barrett wrote a review of a book by libertarian law professor Randy Barnett in which she criticized the court’s justification for upholding the legality of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.

“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” Barrett wrote.

Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., issued her own statement in which she also framed Barrett’s nomination in terms of the impact it could have on the ACA.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Biden for President Black economic summit at Camp North End in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a Biden for President Black economic summit in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

“From day one, President Trump made clear that he had a litmus test for Supreme Court Justices — destroy the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with preexisting conditions and overturn our right to make our own health care decisions,” Harris said in her statement.

On Thursday, Trump held an event in Charlotte, N.C., where he signed an executive order that he said would improve health care in the U.S. and protect people with preexisting conditions from being denied insurance coverage.

“The historic action I’m taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with preexisting conditions,” he said.

Those protections were put in place by the ACA under President Barack Obama. The Trump administration, along with a number of Republican-led states, is seeking to overturn the ACA in a case that will go before the Supreme Court shortly after it convenes for a new term in early October. Trump’s statement of “official policy” did not specify a mechanism for keeping preexisting coverage in place, or how it would be paid for.

Biden pointed out that ending coverage for preexisting conditions could make it difficult or impossible for patients recovering from COVID-19 to get health insurance.

“President Trump has been trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act for four years. Republicans have been trying to end it for a decade,” Biden said in his statement, adding, “But even now, in the midst of a global health pandemic, the Trump Administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the entire law, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. If President Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next deniable pre-existing condition.”

While Democrats appear to lack the votes to block Barrett’s nomination, Harris, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will question the nominee during her confirmation hearings, made clear that she would do her best to derail the nomination.

President Donald Trump (L) introduces 7th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Trump introduces Seventh Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“As a U.S. Senator and member of the Judiciary Committee, I have a duty to ensure that a Supreme Court nominee will uphold the law and has a demonstrated commitment to equal justice,” Harris said, adding, “I will continue to fight on behalf of the people and strongly oppose the president’s nomination.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., issued his own statement vowing to “strongly oppose this nomination,” citing the threat to the ACA and other issues that might come before the court: “a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections and more.”

Cover thumbnail photo: Joe Biden and Amy Coney Barrett. (Carolyn Kaster/AP, Alex Brandon/AP)

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