President-elect Joe Biden is championing the Obama administration’s signature health law as it goes before the Supreme Court in a case that could lead to it being overturned. He will deliver a speech on the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, the same day the high court will hear arguments on its merits.
The court ruled eight years ago to leave the essential components of the law known as Obamacare intact, but is now controlled 6-3 by a conservative majority after President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
The speech reflects the importance Mr Biden is placing on health care as he prepares to take office in January amid the worst pandemic in more than a century.
He is launching his transition process this week as the virus surges across the country. The US surpassed 10 million cases Monday.
Mr Biden also focused on health care on Monday as he pleaded with Americans to put aside their political differences and wear masks to protect themselves and other people from the virus.
“We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives, American lives,” Mr Biden said. “Please, I implore you, wear a mask.”
The suit challenging the health care law was brought in America’s largest conservative state, Texas, and is backed by Mr Trump and senior Republicans.
It asks the Supreme Court to declare the law’s mandate to buy health insurance unconstitutional because Congress had previously repealed the penalties for non-compliance.
After serving as President Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, Mr Biden has pledged to build on the Affordable Care Act while championing a “public option” that would allow more people to opt in to government-sponsored health insurance even as millions of others could stick with their current, usually employer-based coverage.
But such changes could be difficult to enact if Democrats fail to win a majority in the Senate. Control of the chamber hinges on two run-off races in Georgia that will be decided in January.