President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to defend the Affordable Care Act, the public health insurance scheme passed when he was vice-president, as the US Supreme Court considers a case attempting to strike down the law.
The Democrat said the court effort was an attempt by “far-right ideologues” to undermine access to healthcare.
The comments come as the US faces an unrelenting coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats made protecting the law a key election issue.
What did Mr Biden say?
“This case represents the latest attempt by the far-right ideologues to do what they have repeatedly failed to do for a long time,” Mr Biden said in a speech where he addressed the Supreme Court case that opened with oral arguments on Tuesday.
There have been numerous attempts by President Trump to “erase the law” – popularly known as Obamacare – that have been rejected by Congress and in previous court cases, Mr Biden said.
Healthcare has been a key issue for voters even before the pandemic and a key part of the Democratic platform, helping the party win a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 mid-term elections.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has remained popular overall – an October Kaiser Family Foundation poll that reported 55% of Americans viewed it favourably. A Pew Research Center report from September found 63% of US adults feel the government has a responsibility to provide health coverage for all – a rise from 59% last year.
Mr Biden noted that the nation is “more united on this issue than divided”.
“This effort to bypass the will of the American people, the verdict of courts in the past, the judgments of Congress, in my view, is simply cruel and needlessly divisive,” he said of the court case – and said that regardless of the outcome, his administration would work to expand public health coverage when he takes office.