During the first presidential debate on Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pushed back against President Trump’s claims that Democrats want socialized medicine in America, saying that he himself is the Democratic party and therefore sets the party’s platform.
Biden began by saying the president had “made it clear he wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,” which he said would strip 20 million people of their health insurance. He added that the move would severely impact 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.
The president pushed back, saying the 100 million figure was incorrect and said under Biden’s plan 180 million people would lose their private healthcare that they are “very happy” with.
When the former vice president countered, saying “That’s simply not true,” Trump responded, “Well, you’re going to socialist medicine.”
Biden said he wants to expand Obamacare, and that under his proposal people can and will still have private insurance.
Trump again said the Democratic party wanted a move toward socialist medicine, to which Biden replied, “The party is me right now, I am the Democratic party.”
“The platform of the Democratic party is what I in fact approved of,” he added.
Trump responded, “Not according to Harris,” in reference to Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
Biden went on to reiterate that dismantling the ACA would hurt Americans with pre-existing conditions and questioned how that would affect the more than 7 million Americans who have contracted the coronavirus, which has been shown to have lasting effects in a number of patients.
The 100 million Americans with pre-existing figures appears to come from a 2018 report by the consulting firm Avalere which found that “102 million individuals, not enrolled in major public programs like Medicaid or Medicare, have a pre-existing medical condition and could therefore face higher premiums or significant out-of-pocket costs if the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections were repealed.”
Chris Sloan, associate principal at Avalere and a co-author of the 2018 report, told FactCheck.org that it’s not as if 100 million people would “suddenly” be unable to get coverage or have higher premiums should the ACA be eliminated.
According to a 2017 estimation by the Congressional Budge Office, if the Obama-era policy were to be repealed and not replaced with new legislation, the number of uninsured would increase by 32 million over 10 years.
During the Democratic presidential primary, the Washington Post reported that three Democratic candidates — Senators Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Bernie Sanders (D., V.T.) and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio — supported universal healthcare plans that would essentially eliminate private insurance.
Four candidates said private insurance could stick around for now, while 19 candidates, including Biden, said it was unnecessary to eliminate private insurance.