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    Biden defends Obamacare as Supreme Court mulls its fate

    President-elect Joe Biden is championing the Obama administration’s signature healthcare law as it goes before the Supreme Court in a case that could overturn it.

    Biden is scheduled to deliver a speech on the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, the same day the high court will hear arguments on its merits. The court ruled eight years ago to leave the essential components of Obamacare intact, but is now controlled by a 6-3 conservative majority after President Trump’s appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

    The speech reflects the importance Biden is putting on healthcare as he prepares to take office in January amid the worst pandemic in more than a century. He launched the transition process this week by announcing the appointment of a coronavirus task force Monday — the same day that the U.S. surpassed 10 million cases.

    Biden also pleaded with Americans to put aside their political differences and wear masks to protect themselves and their neighbors from the coronavirus.

    “We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives — American lives,” Biden said. “Please, I implore you, wear a mask.”

    The suit challenging the healthcare law was brought in America’s largest conservative state, Texas, and is backed by Trump and top Republicans. It asks the Supreme Court to declare the law’s mandate to buy health insurance unconstitutional because Congress had previously repealed the penalties for noncompliance.

    After serving as President Obama’s vice president for eight years, Biden has pledged to build on the Affordable Care Act while championing a “public option” that would allow more people to opt into government-sponsored health insurance. Millions of others would be able to stick with their current, usually employer-provided coverage.

    Politics

    Trump and Biden offer starkly different visions of U.S. healthcare

    Trump and Biden diverge on the coronavirus pandemic, Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid, abortion rights, and how to rein in prescription drug prices.

    But such changes could be difficult to enact if Democrats fail to win a majority in the Senate. Control of the chamber hinges on two runoff races in Georgia that will be decided in January.

    Biden, meanwhile, is moving forward with planning a presidential transition even as Trump refuses to concede the race and falsely argues that it was stolen from him.

    The president-elect is expected to quickly name a chief of staff and start considering Cabinet appointments, though those likely won’t be finalized for weeks.

    But he’s running into hurdles from the General Services Administration, which is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as president-elect. That designation eases cooperation between the outgoing and incoming administrations. The agency’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process and has given no guidance on when she will.

    “This election is over,” Biden said during his speech Monday. “It’s time to put aside the partisanship, and the rhetoric that is designed to demonize one another.”

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