Klobuchar criticizes court decision on Affordable Care Act

Demonstrators hold signs as Democratic leaders speak
Demonstrators hold signs as Democratic leaders speak with reporters outside the U.S. Capitol on June 26, 2018 in Washington. Democrats were calling on the Trump administration to change its policy regarding the pre-existing conditions provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Aaron P. Bernstein | Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Sunday criticized a federal judge's ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, as well as the ongoing efforts by some Republicans to repeal the law.

The Minnesota Democrat said she expects a court fight that will end with the ACA being upheld.

"This (ruling) is about, first of all, throwing people off of their insurance, no protection with pre-existing conditions, kids staying on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old — a very popular and important protection — Medicaid expanded for millions of Americans," she said during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"That's what we're talking about here. And for (Republicans) just to throw up their hands and say, 'Well, it'd be great if we just started from scratch' — that's not what the American people believe; just look at the results from the last election."

While Friday's decision by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Texas was sweeping, it has little immediate practical impact because the Affordable Care Act remains in place while the legal battle continues, possibly to the Supreme Court.

Officials with MNsure, the state of Minnesota's health insurance exchange, issued a statement Saturday that the court ruling "will not affect MNsure's open enrollment period, (Minnesotans') current coverage or their coverage in 2019."

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The HealthCare.gov website on a computer screen in New York
This Oct. 23, 2018 file photo shows the HealthCare.gov website on a computer screen in New York.
Patrick Sison | AP

MNsure's open enrollment for coverage that takes effect Jan. 1 ended on Saturday; it remains open until Jan. 13 for coverage that takes effect on Feb. 1.

Republicans, still stinging from their loss of the House in the midterm elections, are facing a fresh political quandary after Friday's court decision said the entire 2010 health law was invalid.

Warnings about the Texas lawsuit were part of the political narrative behind Democrats' electoral gains. Health care was the top issue for about one-fourth of voters in the November election, ahead of immigration and jobs and the economy, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey for the Associated Press. Those most concerned with health care supported Democrats overwhelmingly.

In his ruling, O'Connor reasoned that the body of the law could not be surgically separated from its now-meaningless requirement for people to have health insurance.

"On the assumption that the Supreme Court upholds, we will get great, great health care for our people," President Trump told reporters during a visit Saturday to Arlington National Cemetery. "We'll have to sit down with the Democrats to do it, but I'm sure they want to do it also."

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said that if the law is ultimately overturned, then members of Congress from both parties should start over, working together. He urged maintaining provisions such as protections for pre-existing medical conditions, no lifetime dollar limits on insurance coverage, and allowing young adults to stay on parental coverage until age 26.

In her appearance on "Face the Nation," Klobuchar said she wants to work to make the current law — with its popular provisions — better.

"Yes, there are things to do, but we should be working to improve the Affordable Care Act, not just throw it out and set it on fire," Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar said she favors universal health care but said there are many ways of achieving it — such as Medicare for all, or expanding Medicare to age 55.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.