Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE defended his health plan against attacks from President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE, pushing back against claims that he supports socialized medicine.
During the presidential debate Thursday, Trump said Biden's public option will force the country onto a government-run health plan and completely eliminate private insurance.
"They have 180 million plans ... under what he wants to do, which will basically be socialized medicine, he won't even have a choice, they want to terminate 180 million plans," Trump said.
Biden's health plan will build on ObamaCare, and will include a government-run "public option" similar to Medicare. But instead of eliminating private insurance and putting everyone in the country under a single-payer plan, a public option would compete with private plans to give people the best prices, and people will choose whether they want to enroll.
"I support private insurance, not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan," Biden said.
In fact, Biden noted he beat out much more liberal challengers in the Democratic primary who supported "Medicare for All." Biden's plan was seen as the more moderate choice compared to the plans promoted by other Democratic candidates like Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Pelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill top line higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam White House faces increased cries from allies on Haitian migrants MORE (D-Mass.)
"The fact that there's a public option, that people can choose? That makes it a socialist plan?" Biden asked incredulously. "He thinks he's running against someone else. He's running against Joe Biden. "
Supporters say the public option is better than Medicare for All because if people like their private plan, they can keep it, but they also will have the choice of buying into the public option.
If Biden wins, his plan will face an uphill battle even if Democrats retake control of the Senate. It would have to pass via a narrow margin and overcome fierce opposition from well-funded industry groups.
Obamacare originally included a public option, but it was stripped from the bill in order to make it more palatable to the Democrats at the time.
Biden and Trump also sparred over protecting people with preexisting conditions if the Supreme Court rules in favor of a Republican-led lawsuit that aims to invalidate the law.
If successful, the lawsuit would result in about 20 million people losing health insurance, and popular protections for individuals with preexisting conditions would be eliminated.
Trump said he wants the court to throw out ObamaCare.
"What we'd like to do is terminate it," Trump said.
However, he also promised to protect people with preexisting conditions from discrimination by insurance companies, but to date has not said how he will do that.
"Preexisting conditions will always stay," Trump said. "What I would like to do is much better health care. I'd like to terminate ObamaCare and come up with a brand new beautiful health care [plan]."
Trump has made clear before that he would like to see the health law struck down, and his own Justice Department this summer filed a legal brief with the court arguing for it to strike down the law.
Still, his comments undermine efforts by Republicans to downplay the threat to the previous administration’s signature health care law during the confirmation fight over Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettAre COVID-19 vaccine mandates a strategy to end the pandemic? New Hampshire state representative leaves GOP over opposition to vaccine mandate Barrett: Supreme Court 'not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks' MORE.