(Reuters) – Healthcare, always a top concern for U.S. voters, has taken on even greater importance amid a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 205,000 Americans and cost millions more their jobs.
The death of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, meanwhile, has raised the stakes of the upcoming legal battle over Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, when the high court hears the Trump administration’s effort to repeal the law days after the Nov. 3 election.
Here is a look at some of the vast differences on healthcare policy between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden:
Trump has ceded much of the response to the pandemic to the states, rather than pursuing a national effort to expand testing, coordinate contact tracing and acquire protective equipment in bulk. He has also sent mixed messages on masks, which public health experts have said are crucial to slowing the spread of the virus.
Since the spring, Trump has pressed governors to reopen their states and has called on public schools to return to in-person instruction, arguing that the “cure cannot be worse than the disease.” He has often downplayed the deadliness of the virus and at times publicly undermined his administration’s own experts.
Trump signed into law several relief bills that have delivered trillions of dollars to individuals and businesses, though congressional Democrats have demanded more spending. The administration also launched “Operation Warp Speed,” an effort to support development of a coronavirus vaccine.
Biden has vowed to “listen to the science,” even saying he would consider another national economic shutdown if experts recommend it. He has called for a national mask standard, though he has acknowledged he may not have the authority to mandate their use.
His coronavirus plan calls for scaling up testing and contact tracing and promises to appoint a “supply commander” to oversee supply lines of critical equipment.
Biden has also proposed reopening insurance marketplaces for people who lost coverage through their jobs, expanding paid sick leave, and increasing pay for frontline workers. He has questioned whether Trump may try to politicize the vaccine process to boost his own re-election chances.
After years of failed attempts by Republican lawmakers to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Trump has turned to other tools to undermine the sweeping healthcare law: executive power and the courts.
The Justice Department is backing a lawsuit brought by several Republican-led states seeking to overturn the entire ACA, a case the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear on Nov. 10 – one week after Election Day.
Justice Ginsburg’s death has deepened concerns among Democrats that the court, which previously upheld the law 5-4 in 2012, might rule against the ACA. Under the law, more than 20 million Americans have gained insurance coverage.
The Trump administration has not proposed a comprehensive replacement, despite Trump’s vow to deliver a better, less-costly healthcare system. On Thursday, he signed two executive orders as part of what he called