White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney guarantees no one will lose coverage if Obamacare struck down

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that he could guarantee Americans would not lose their health insurance coverage if the Affordable Care Act was struck down in a court challenge.

On ABC's "This Week," Mulvaney was asked what would happen to the more than 60 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who are guaranteed coverage under the ACA – commonly referred to as Obamacare – and the millions of adults under 26 who are able to stay on their parents' plans if the health care law was declared unconstitutional.

"Can you guarantee that if you succeed in court that all of those tens of millions of people who have health coverage guaranteed because of Obamacare will not lose their coverage?" host Jonathan Karl asked.

"Yes," Mulvaney replied, declaring the "debate about pre-existing conditions is over." He said every replacement plan for the ACA supported by the White House or Congress since President Donald Trump took office included protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

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"Both parties support them, and anyone telling you anything different is lying to you for political gain. Pre-existing conditions are going to be covered," Mulvaney said. "The debate becomes: How do you best do it?"

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a 2020 presidential candidate, did not buy the guarantee.

"The president's Justice Department announced that they're going to
repeal the Affordable Care Act, which, contrary to what Mr. Mulvaney just said, means that people will be kicked off their insurance for pre-existing conditions," Klobuchar said on "This Week."

A study by the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center estimated that as many as 19.9 million Americans could lose their coverage if the ACA is struck down.

More: Challenge to Obamacare could leave 20 million people without health insurance

"The president's budget on March 11 proposed replacing the ACA with an approach modeled after the Graham-Cassidy bill, providing 'relief' from 'many' of the ACA's insurance rules. The original Graham-Cassidy bill allowed unlimited premiums for people with pre-existing conditions," tweeted Larry Levitt, senior vice president for Health Reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Republicans were unable to pass a replacement for the ACA during the two years they controlled both houses of Congress, and some analysts questioned the political wisdom of reopening the effort to repeal it. Obamacare has become more popular in polling, and health care concerns were cited as one of the reasons for the Democrats' success in the 2018 midterm elections.

In December, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor declared the entire ACA unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of Republican-led states. The law remains intact, pending a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.

More: A federal judge ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Now what happens?

The Justice Department announced in June 2018 that it would not defend some provisions of the law, particularly the individual mandate, which imposed penalties on those without insurance. It said that the law should not be struck down in its entirety and that some aspects, such as Medicaid expansion, should be left in place.

Last week, the department changed its position and notified the federal appeals court that it wants the entire ACA thrown out.

Trump said Wednesday that if the law is struck down and that decision is upheld by the Supreme Court, "we will have a plan that is far better than Obamacare."

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway did not offer specifics when asked about that Republican plan on "Fox News Sunday."

"The Republican plan is manifold," she said. She pointed to the president's budget proposal in which she said "pre-existing conditions are accounted for." Conway said Democrats want to replace Obamacare, favoring "Medicare for All," which she called the "health version of the Green New Deal."

Mulvaney said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that a one- or two-page proposal would be sent to Congress where lawmakers could hash out the specifics.

Trump named Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., as one of the lawmakers tasked with coming up with an Obamacare alternative. Scott said Sunday that because of a Democratic majority and "Nancy Pelosi in the House, it's going to be tough to get something done."

"Democrats constantly focus on access" when the "problem is the cost of health care is too high in this country," Scott said during an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Scott said he plans to start with the price of prescription drugs. He said the "Medicare for All" plan supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would "just ruin our health care system."

Sanders, also a 2020 presidential candidate, said Sunday on "Face the Nation" that if "Trump gets his way, the cost of health insurance for you will be so high that many people literally will not be able to afford it. Thousands of people will literally die."

Klobuchar vowed "all-out opposition to the administration’s plan to kick people off their health care" and said the ACA is "a beginning and not an end." She said that as president, she would favor a "public option" for people to buy into Medicare or Medicaid.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney guarantees no one will lose coverage if Obamacare struck down