Health care has re-emerged as a major focus of U.S. political parties with the Trump administration advocating striking down the entire Affordable Care Act and Democrats introducing legislation to strengthen the law that has been in place since 2010.
The Justice Department on Monday backed a federal court ruling declaring the entire ACA unconstitutional on the basis that without the fines for not having health insurance, which a Republican-led Congress passed last year, the mandate for having coverage should not be allowed.
That went against the administration’s earlier position that while some parts of the ACA should be struck down, not all of it should be thrown out.
Trump told reporters Tuesday he wanted alternatives to the law, which was one of the chief policies enacted under his predecessor Barack Obama.
“The Republican Party will become ‘The Party of Healthcare!’” he wrote on Twitter.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer signaled his party is happy to take on the issue, especially following the end of the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign. Schumer said issues such as healthcare and climate change are much more important to voters.
The issue was a key part of the party’s 2018 congressional election strategy, which put Democrats back in control of the House of Representatives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled Democratic proposals she says would improve upon the existing law, while accusing Republicans of working only to “destroy the affordable health care of America’s families.”
The legislation would seek to make health insurance plans more affordable by boosting subsidies to lower-income households, provide more protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and boost outreach and enrollment efforts to help people better understand what insurance options exist for them.
The legal battle over the existing law could end up at the Supreme Court, which previously upheld the individual mandate with its financial penalties as a legal tax Congress was allowed to impose. The five justices in the majority on that case remain on the court.