Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney claimed Sunday that if the Trump administration succeeds in striking down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act in court, millions of Americans who have health coverage because of the Obama-era health law will not lose their insurance. But with no clear GOP replacement plan, Mulvaney provided few details on how he could make such guarantee.
On "This Week," ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Mulvaney whether he could provide such a guarantee for the millions of people who enrolled through HealthCare.gov, including those with pre-existing conditions and the people under the age of 26 enrolled under their parents' plans.
"Yes and here's why," Mulvaney said Sunday. "Let's talk about pre-existing conditions, because it gets a lot of the attention and rightly so. Every single plan that this White House has ever put forward since Donald Trump was elected, covered pre-existing conditions."
But beyond pre-existing conditions protections, Mulvaney did not address how the 8.4 million Americans who have coverage through HealthCare.gov and state exchanges would all maintain their coverage under a potential GOP replacement plan.
Mulvaney added that "'Obamacare' is not working," and that "even Democrats admit that." He claimed that a higher number of Americans paid what was known as the "penalty" for not taking a health plan last year. ABC News could not independently confirm Mulvaney's claim regarding last year's statistics, however, the provision of Affordable Care Act known as the "mandate," which imposed the penalties, was repealed by the Republican tax plan in 2017.
Beginning this year, taxpayers will no longer incur penalties for declining health coverage.
The Justice Department said last Monday that it supports a federal judge's ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be invalidated, signaling a new push by the Trump administration to eliminate the Obama-era health care law.
On Tuesday, Trump told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce that "the Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch."
Despite the president's confidence in his party's ability to enact a new health care law, congressional Republicans are not so sure. According to a report in Axios, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the minority leader in the House, told Trump over the phone that his renewed fight against the Affordable Care Act "made no sense" in light of the fact that Democrats successfully fended off multiple GOP attempts to repeal the law in 2017.
Democrats have seized on the administration's move, with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., telling reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that "Republicans have shown their true colors. They simply cannot help themselves."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that "the GOP will never stop trying to destroy the affordable health care of America's families," and that "In this House, with a Democratic majority, we're here to strengthen those protections and to lower health care costs."
According to the government, approximately 8.4 million Americans selected or were automatically re-enrolled in plans using HealthCare.gov during the 2019 open enrollment period. These, along with over 100 million with pre-existing conditions, are at risk of losing coverage or protections afforded by the ACA.
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the administration has a "plan B" to protect people with pre-existing conditions if the court strikes down the entire health care law.