President Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will continue to push the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, defying a last-minute request from Attorney General William Barr to modify the administration’s position.
“We’re not doing anything. In other words, we’re staying with the group, with Texas and the group,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
As it stands now, the Trump administration position fully backs the lawsuit filed by a group of Republican states seeking to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act.
“Obamacare is a disaster, but we’ve run it very well, and we’ve made it barely acceptable,” Trump said. “It was a disaster under President Obama, and it’s very bad health care. What we want to do is terminate it and give health care. We’ll have great health care, including preexisting conditions.”
Trump said the administration had “already pretty much killed it because we got rid of the individual mandate.”
“We want to terminate health care for – under Obamacare because it’s bad, and we’re replacing it with a great health care at far less money and it includes preexisting conditions,” he said. The White House has yet to offer an alternative to the 2010 law.
On Tuesday, CNN first reported on Barr’s push to persuade the administration to modify its position in the Obamacare dispute that will be heard at the Supreme Court this fall, arguing that the administration should pull back from its insistence that the entire law be struck down.
With a Wednesday deadline to make any alterations to its argument looming, Barr made his case in a room with Vice President Mike Pence, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, members of the Domestic Policy Council, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and several other officials. The meeting ended without a decision and it was not immediately clear if any shift in the Trump administration’s position will emerge.
Barr and other top advisers have argued against the hard-line position for some time, warning it could have major political implications if the comprehensive health care law appears in jeopardy as voters head to the polls in November.
Asked about Barr’s push, Trump said he “didn’t know about that suggestion.”
“I think I’ve spoken a lot about this to Bill Barr, and we’re totally in lock step with all of the many states that want to see much better health care.” Trump said.
House Democrats cite coronavirus in defense of law
Lawyers for the House of Representatives launched a broad defense of the Affordable Care Act, telling the Supreme Court that access to affordable health care is a “life-or-death matter for millions of Americans.”
In briefs filed Wednesday, the lawyers linked the law to Covid-19 and said it had become an “indispensable precondition to the social intercourse on which our security, welfare and liberty ultimately depend.”
In addition, 20 states, led by California, filed legal papers with the Supreme Court defending the law, arguing that it has allowed tens of millions of Americans to obtain health care coverage, slowed the growth of health care costs and conferred substantial savings on the states.
UPDATE: This story has been updated with responses from the House and California.
CNN’s Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.