Dems focus on health care in Barrett hearing, families share opposing views on ACA

Democrats say Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett would help strike down the Affordable Care Act. A dad with two diabetic kids and a mom of a prematurely born child say the law is helping.
10:30 | 10/14/20

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Transcript for Dems focus on health care in Barrett hearing, families share opposing views on ACA
The future of the affordable care act, also known as Obamacare, goes before the supreme court next month. Today was center stage as senators questioned president trump's latest supreme court tonight, congress, the court, a health care crisis, and the Americans caught in the middle. Reporter: 8-year-old Charli wood is on a mission. She and mother Rebecca zipping up in head to toe hazmat suits. A lot of the Republican senators are sloppy about covid. Reporter: They're about to join a rally to fight, they say for Charli's life. No confirmation until inauguration! Reporter: Charli was born 14 weeks early, weighing 1 pound 12 ounces at birth. Rebecca says Charli survived overwhelming odds with help from a hotly contested government program. Without the ACA, she's uninsurable. Her birth is a pre-existing condition. She would have exceeded a love time cap before coming home from the NICU for the very first time. Fight, fight, fight! Reporter: The woods join dozens of others on the front steps of the supreme court, including Anna Marie acilla, executive director for the center for popular democracy. People will be even worse off in the face of a global pandemic, in the face of any other health disaster, communities of color in particular will be a lot worse off without access to health care that was afforded through the affordable care act. Reporter: They're fighting to make their voices heard, to say no to judge Amy coney Barrett, supreme court justice nominee they fear will be president trump's key to dismantling the affordable care act. It's barely sustainable as it is. And we're fighting for crumbs here. Reporter: The affordable care act has taken center stage this week in the midst of this contentious supreme court nomination. Washington Republicans have realized that the affordable care act is working too well and helping too many people to repeal it without facing serious political consequences. From my point of view, Obamacare has been a disaster for the state of South Carolina. All of you over there that want to impose Obamacare on south Carolina, we don't want it. We want something better. Health care has been front and center in this hearing. If Amy coney Barrett is on that court, she'll rule on whether it survives and whether the whole law is struck down, along with a lot of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, so Democrats want to press her on president trump has vowed to get rid of that law and they want to know if she will do his bidding. Reporter: The Democrats have used the hearings to double down on ac assesses Barrett's nomination would end the ACA, leaving millions of Americans without health care, as covid-19 spreads throughout the nation. Health care is a huge cost for families. Polls show as Obamacare, as the affordable care act was being threatened with going away, its popularity has gone up. They don't want to change it without a plan for what's coming next. And the president and Republicans don't have one. Reporter: But Barrett repeatedly refused to give any indication of her position. Have you committed to the president or anyone else that you will vote to repeal the affordable care act if confirmed to the court? Absolutely not. I was never asked, and if I had have been, that would have been a short conversation. I'm not willing to make a deal, not with the committee, not with the president, not with anyone. I'm independent. Nobody wants to live in a court with the law of Amy. My children don't even want to do that. Reporter: Case western reserve university school of law professor Jonathan Adler says Barrett was following the judicial process. They can't answer questions about how they are going to rule in a future case. That would prejudice their ability to hear the issue impartially. Reporter: Her dedication to values has won over supporters like James depaulo in Florida. He hasn't been swayed by the democratic questioning of the supreme court nominee. I believe that's rhetoric, and that's fine. This is politics, politics is about rhetoric. It's about, if you don't want this person on the bench, you are going to use whatever rhetoric you think is going to get the job done. Reporter: The father of two and catholic middle school teacher is an independent who voted for trump in 2016, and he says the president's endorsement of Barrett has probably sealed his vote again. What is it about her that made you decide, okay, I can support trump again? I'm a practical catholic. My faith is very important to me, and she is someone who has lived out those values. And she's a federal judge. That's not small-time. She's a very intelligent woman. She really understands the law, and I believe she tries to come at every case with earnestness. Reporter: His biggest gripe with the affordable care act, that the government required Americans to be insured. The mandate was the biggest one for me. I think mandated citizens to do something, I don't like that as a citizen. I don't think it solved the problem. There are other options out there to help people. Reporter: The affordable care act has been mired in controversy throughout its 10-year existence. I like to call it the most resilient and most challenged statute in modern American history, in fact, all of American history. It is into the supreme court coming on an unprecedented seven times in ten years. It has been the subject of challenges in more than 1,000 cases in the lower courts. Congress has tried to repeal it more than 70 times and failed. And this current administration has tried to sabotage it over and over again. Reporter: Yale law and medical school professor Abby Gluck has studied the ACA since its inception in 2010. The affordable care act is the most transformative and important health law passed by congress since medicare and medicaid in 1965. It has brought health care to some 20 million new Americans. It has expanded medicaid. It is not just a statute for the poor. Due to protection for lifetime caps, pre-existing conditions, quality insurance plans, eliminating co-pay for preventative care. Those apply to all kinds of Americans. No one should think they're not going to be touched by this. Reporter: Those who may be most affected by the fate of the ACA are people with pre-existing conditions. These 15-year-old twins live in Cambridge, diagnosed with diabetes at a young age. It's a condition they'll have to live with the rest of their lives, one that afflicts 30 million Americans nationwide. We have to watch what we eat. We avoid soda and candy. We sports we have to watch our blood sugars so that we know if we're able to play. It's just a lot of work, because we have to manage it all the time, it never goes away. Reporter: They rely on insulin doses to stay alive. I couldn't get the insulin I needed, my blood sugar would start to rise and would ultimately end in death if I did get the insulin I need for my body. A lot of the mental health that goes along with it, I've struggled with that. I can get really upset with it. It's really frustrating because I never feel normal. Reporter: Their treatment is covered by their parents' insurance. The costs of treating diabetes have only gone up. Now without insurance, the list price for insulin right now would be about $2,200 for one month of insulin for the two girls. That's just the insulin. The thought of our children having to choose between food and insulin is terrifying. Because we know what happens when people don't have access to insulin. You and I make it on our own, those two girls don't. Reporter: Sherry and Eric say the twins can remain covered until they're 26 years old, thanks in part to the affordable care act which they call their safety net. Our girls both have big dreams for themselves. One wants to be a doctor, one wants to be a lawyer. They're going to be in school for a very, very long time and they're going to need health coverage and they're going to need our help to get through that period of their lives. For us, the pre-existing conditions and finding affordable health care, it's not a Democrat issue, it's not a Republican issue, it's a life issue. It's important all our politicians locally, nationally, work together for the betterment of the country. Reporter: If confirmed, one of Barrett's first cases as a supreme court justice is California V. Texas. The heart of the case is whether or not the affordable care act's individual mandate requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance is constitutional. The affordable care act was a piece of legislation that literally took up thousands of pages. And this lawsuit is going after one line or two lines in that massive piece of legislation. So the real question before the court is, if you take that one part out, can you leave the rest of it standing? And I would expect the supreme court, even if it does strike down the mandate, to leave the vast majority of the affordable care act in place. Reporter: But if the ACA is repealed, experts fear the lack of an alternative plan in place to protect the millions who would lose coverage. The Republicans have said for the last ten years that they're going to put an alternative in place and it's going to be frisk. Well, we have yet to see what that alternative would be. The only thing the president has said so far is everyone supports pre-existing conditions and if the affordable care act is struck down, he'll just order them to be reinstated. Sorry, but that's not legally permissible, that is required to be done by an act of congress. Fight, fight, fight! Reporter: It's those unknowns that people protesting outside the supreme court -- No confirmation before inauguration! Reporter: Insisting Barrett's confirmation be held off until after the election. Any sooner, they say, will be a compromise on democracy. What is immediately also at stake is progress we have made over generations. The fact that people have health care is not a given as a result of people struggling and bringing those demands to the I want to make sure that we have a court that people can trust, people can respect, because it is the place where we resolve big questions about who advance -- how to advance our society in the direction of more justice, more inclusion, more

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