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Trump, Biden clash over health care as debate begins

Trump, Biden clash over health care as debate begins
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE and Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability MORE clashed in the opening moments of Tuesday's debate over the Trump administration's effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court. 

The opening question of the first presidential debate was about the vacancy on the Supreme Court but Biden immediately pivoted to the issue of health care, driving home a theme that Democrats have been hammering all week: that the future of ObamaCare is at risk in the Supreme Court.

He pointed out Trump is supporting a GOP lawsuit seeking to end the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case just one week after Election Day, on Nov. 10. 

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"He's in the Supreme Court right now trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act," Biden said. 

Trump frequently interrupted Biden and also sparred with moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceTrump adviser says president will give Biden 'a little bit more room to explain himself' at next debate Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Miller on whether Trump regrets 'Lock her up' chant about Whitmer: 'Not at all' MORE when Wallace pressed the president on what his plan is to replace ObamaCare. 

"You have never in these four years come up with a plan," Wallace said. 

"I got rid of the individual mandate," Trump replied, referring to the law's requirement that everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty. 

"That is not a comprehensive plan," Wallace replied.  

Trump has never released a comprehensive plan of his own to replace the law, despite repeated promises to do so, but he did back a House GOP bill in 2017 that would have weakened ObamaCare's protections for people with preexisting conditions by allowing states to get waivers that would allow insurers to charge sick people much higher premiums. 

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Trump countered by accusing Biden of backing "Medicare for All," saying "you're going to extinguish 180 million people with their private health care."

Biden does not support Medicare for All, though he does support giving people the option to enroll in a government-run "public option" plan if they choose to. 

Trump pointed to a "manifesto," between Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Senate Democrats seek to alleviate public concern about some results not being available on election night Georgia senator mocks Harris's name before Trump rally: 'Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know' MORE (I-Vt.), referring to a health care plan jointly devised by advisers to both men. But that plan does not call for the elimination of private insurance, instead calling for Biden's optional government plan. 

When Trump said Biden agreed with Sanders, Biden replied "I beat Bernie Sanders."

"Not by much," Trump shot back.  

Biden pointed out the Trump-backed lawsuit would eliminate ObamaCare's protections for people with preexisting conditions if it is successful, saying there are 100 million people with such conditions who would be impacted. Trump said that number is false.  

Estimates range from around 54 million people to around 130 million people with preexisting conditions, depending on the criteria for how severe a condition must be to be counted. If ObamaCare is struck down, people with preexisting conditions could be denied coverage if they could not get it from an employer and tried to buy coverage on the individual market.  

Trump also pointed to his efforts to lower drug prices, saying his actions on health care are real. "There's nothing symbolic, I'm cutting drug prices, I'm going with favored nations," he said. He has proposed a "most favored nation" plan to lower drug prices in Medicare by tying them to lower prices in other countries. But while that plan has been proposed, it has not actually gone into effect yet and it is unclear when or if it will. 

"He hasn't lowered drug costs for anybody," Biden said.