During an ABC News town hall with voters in Philadelphia on Thursday, President Donald Trump was confronted by an undecided voter confronted over his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, asking how the White House planned to protect those with preexisting conditions while actively fighting to undermine protections already in place.
The voter, Ellesia Blaque, pressed Trump during an ABC News town hall with voters in Philadelphia. During a tense moment, Blaque detailed her experience with a lifelong disease that costs her thousands of dollars annually in insurance co-payments.
“Mr. President, I was born with a disease called sarcoidosis, and from the day I was born, I was considered uninsurable,” Blaque, who is an assistant professor, said. “That disease started in my skin, moved to my eyes, into my optic nerves, and when I went to graduate school, into my brain. … With copays, I’m still paying almost $7,000 a year in addition to the copay.”
The questioning grew tense after Trump interrupted to dispute claims that the ACA, also known as Obamacare, had already protected those with preexisting conditions.
“Should preexisting conditions ― which Obamacare brought into ― brought to fruition ― be removed…,” she started to question before Trump interrupted.
“No,” Trump said.
“Please stop and let me finish my question, sir. Should that be removed, within a 36- to 72-hour period, without my medication, I will be dead,” Blaque said.
The moment highlighted Trump’s efforts to repeal the ACA. The president has pledged for years to do so, even after Congress — then controlled by Republicans in both chambers — failed to pass replacement legislation in 2017.
“What we’re doing is we’re going to be doing a health care plan — preexisting, protecting people with preexisting conditions ― as an example, yourself, it sounds like that’s exactly perfect,” Trump said while criticizing efforts to protect Obamacare by his Democratic competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden. “That’s exactly what we’re talking about. We’re going to be doing a health care plan very strongly and protect people with preexisting conditions.”
ABC News host George Stephanopoulos pushed back, noting Obamacare already protects Americans like Blaque.
“You’re trying to strike down the whole law,” Stephanopoulos said.
“George, we have run it really well. But we also have now other … we have other alternatives to Obamacare that are 50% less expensive, and they’re actually better,” Trump shot back.
“It’s been 3½ years,” Stephanopoulos pointed out.
"You've been trying to strike down pre-existing conditions."
In a @ABC2020 town hall, @GStephanopoulos presses Pres. Trump on claim he's preserving pre-existing conditions—as his administration argues in court against Obamacare, which protects them. Watch the full exchange. pic.twitter.com/GuOyqUKhen
— ABC News (@ABC) September 16, 2020