Biden, Trump spar on health care

Familiar debate returns ahead of 2024 election

- David Jackson

WASHINGTON − The 2024 presidenti­al debates are months away, but President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are already engaging in general-election-style disputes, starting with a long-standing issue: health care.

Biden and his reelection campaign officials are zeroing in on the former president after he said Saturday that he’s considerin­g “alternativ­es” to President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care law, which Trump claims is driving up costs.

Though Trump has yet to offer a specific plan, he has backed proposals that would terminate health care insurance for millions of Americans, Biden and his supporters warn.

“His plan is to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said at a fundraiser Tuesday night in the Denver area. “His plan is to throw every one of them (who receive insurance) off that legislatio­n . ... Trump gets his way, it’s all gone.”

Democrats jumped on the opportunit­y to talk about health care coverage after a weekend post by Trump on his Truth Social platform.

“The cost of Obamacare is out of control, plus, it’s not good Healthcare,” the former president wrote. “I’m seriously looking at alternativ­es.”

Trump did not offer specifics, but he attacked a Wall Street Journal editorial protesting health care regulation­s and costs. He also cited his failed attempts to repeal Obamacare while in office, an effort that came up short because of objections from Republican­s such as Arizona Sen. John McCain.

In a Truth Social post Wednesday, Trump, without offering specifics, claimed that “I don’t want to terminate Obamacare, I want to REPLACE IT with MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE.”

As part of their counter, the Biden campaign organized a conference call for reporters featuring former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a key player in passage of the legislatio­n known as Obamacare, and Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a battlegrou­nd state in a Biden-Trump race.

Health care “will be on the ballot,” Pelosi said, because Trump is “hellbent on destroying the Affordable Care Act.”

Biden and his campaign team are zeroing in on the former president after Trump said he is considerin­g “alternativ­es” to Obamacare, whose costs he declared are “out of control.”

Cooper called health care “an issue that resonates across the country.”

Though Trump hasn’t talked about health care extensivel­y on the 2024 campaign trail, repealing the Affordable Care Act was a major goal during his term in office. His administra­tion urged the Supreme Court to overturn the legislatio­n even after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Biden campaign team also appears to be counting on the distinct possibilit­y that Trump will be the opponent in a rematch next fall.

Trump enjoys big leads over Republican opponents vying for the GOP presidenti­al nomination, although rivals such as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis believe they can break through in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina and make it a race.

The former president is also polling well against Biden in early general election matchups. Biden and Trump each commanded 37% of the vote in a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll released last month.

Trump has not commented on health care since his post Saturday, but he indicated he would keep bringing up the question. Failure to repeal Obamacare “was a low point for the Republican Party,” Trump said, “but we should never give up!

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