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Biden defends his health plan from Trump attacks

Biden defends his health plan from Trump attacks
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE defended his health plan against attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech 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.

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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 SandersOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Progressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCan Biden find a third way between Trumpism and Obama-era globalism? Left seeks to influence Biden picks while signaling unity Schwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration 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. 

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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 BarrettGraham reports 'record-breaking' 9M haul during 2020 campaign The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Supreme Court sees new requests for religious COVID-19 carve-outs MORE.