DeSantis suggests plan to 'supersede' Affordable Care Act

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he aims to "replace and supersede" the Affordable Care Act if successful in the 2024 presidential election, making him one more candidate returning focus to the healthcare law after its spell of quiet in politics. 

The Republican governor made his comments about the ACA during a Dec. 3 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." Kristen Welker, NBC's White House correspondent, asked Mr. DeSantis about his plans to repeal and replace the law, enacted by then-President Barack Obama in 2010. 

"We need to have a healthcare plan that works," Mr. DeSantis said. "Obamacare hasn't worked. We are going to replace and supersede with a better plan."

The governor said his would be a "totally different healthcare plan," but he did not detail how replacement legislation would supersede the current law. He stated goals to reduce healthcare costs to ensure affordability for individuals, protect those with preexisting conditions, and scrutinize "big institutions that are causing prices to be high: big pharma, big insurance and big government."

Mr. DeSantis said his campaign will likely roll out a "proposal" in the spring. "I've got a lot of input that's been coming in from a lot of good people around the country," he told Ms. Welker. 

Mr. DeSantis' statements about the healthcare law follow those made by former President Donald Trump, who is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. In late November, Mr. Trump took to social media to identify healthcare as one agenda item for his 2024 presidential campaign with plans to replace the landmark law if he wins a second term. Mr. Trump has opted to skip every Republican primary debate, making his social media content an atypical view into his agenda crafting.

The Republicans' comments signal a change from the 2022 elections, which were the first in more than a decade in which security of the ACA was not a central issue and the Republican Party cast aside its long-running campaign to repeal it. 

President Joe Biden's reelection team has indicated the White House is ready to make the ACA a focal point of the 2024 campaign. The president already tapped former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to warn about threats to the ACA, and his campaign is planning advertisements in battleground states that contrast Mr. Trump's "threats" to the law with Biden administration efforts to lower drug costs, Reuters was first to report. 

The ACA is the most challenged statute in American history, including its seven Supreme Court challenges in a decade, according to professors at Washington, D.C.-based Georgetown University. Most recently, in 2021, the Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge to the ACA, in which plaintiffs argued that the law should be struck down due to the 2017 elimination of the ACA's tax penalty.

At the time of the Republicans' push for a "skinny repeal" of the ACA in 2017, Newsweek identified at least 70 GOP-led attempts to repeal, modify or limit the Affordable Care Act since its inception.

In May 2023, 59% of Americans held a favorable opinion of the ACA and 40% held an unfavorable opinion, according to polling from KFF. Broken down by political parties, 77% of Republicans held unfavorable views and 85% of Democrats held favorable views. 

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