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Trump has no specific plan to replace ACA, despite grilling by Savannah Guthrie

Joe Biden says he will give his stance on court-packing before Election Day.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

During dueling presidential town halls last night, NBC News moderator Savannah Guthrie pushed President Trump to answer questions he's evaded in the past. 

Trump was asked about a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, should the Supreme Court strike it down.

"The problem with Obamacare, it's not good," Trump said. "We'd like to terminate it, and we want a much less expensive healthcare that's a much better healthcare, and that's where we're aiming."

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Congress got rid of the individual mandate, which was the worst part of Obamacare because people had to pay a fortune for health insurance, he said.

"By the way, we're always protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and I can't say that more strongly, but we've been able to bring healthcare costs way down," Trump said. 

Trump has signed a largely symbolic executive order mandating coverage for people who have preexisting conditions.

Guthrie challenged Trump on his administration's support for the lawsuit before the Supreme Court to get rid of the ACA, which includes the protections for preexisting conditions.

"In order to replace it with a much better healthcare at a much lower price," Trump said. "If we don't succeed, we are running the remnants of whatever's left because we took it apart. We are running the remnants of whatever's left much better than the previous administration, which ran it very badly, but we'd like to have new healthcare much better and much less expensive."

Biden's health plan calls for strengthening the ACA and having a private and public option for health insurance.

The big takeaway from the ABC News town hall with George Stephanopoulos was Biden's announcement that he will give his stance on court-packing before Election Day. Stephanopoulos asked if the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court was reason enough for Biden to rethink his previous comments about not being in favor of court packing.

Biden said, "... you know, if I had answered the question directly, then all the focus would be on, what's Biden going to do if he wins, instead of on is it appropriate, what is going on now?"

Biden said his answer now depends on how the question is handled and how much Republicans rush Barrett's confirmation.

If Republicans vote to confirm Barrett prior to the election on November 3, would Biden be open to expanding the court, Stephanopoulos asked?

"I'm open to considering what happens from that point on," Biden said, adding that voters do have a right to know where he stands. "And they will have a right to know where I stand before they vote."

"So, you will come out with a clear position before Election Day?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Yes, depending on how they handle this," Biden said.

The issue is important to healthcare because the Supreme Court is about to get a 6-3 conservative majority should Trump's pick, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, be confirmed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said this will happen prior to Election Day, which means Barrett could be a sitting justice when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on November 11 that the entire Affordable Care Act be declared invalid without the individual mandate. 

The Democrats desire for additional justices to balance the court wouldn't happen in time for oral arguments, so it likely wouldn't affect the outcome of the ACA, but it could affect other healthcare issues such as any expected challenges to Roe v. Wade.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com