'A new pre-existing condition': Biden rips Trump's coronavirus response and Obamacare assault in fiery speech

Joe Biden on Thursday will warn that President Donald Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act could have disastrous consequences on Americans who have had complications from the novel coronavirus.

"Most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19 could become a new pre-existing condition,” that would no longer be covered by insurance plans, the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee will say during a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania later Thursday, according to prepared remarks provided by his campaign.

"Some survivors will experience lasting health impacts — like lung scarring and heart damage," Biden said. "And if Donald Trump prevails in court, insurers would be allowed to strip away coverage or jack up premiums simply because of their battle with the coronavirus," Biden will say, referring to the Trump administration’s ongoing legal effort to invalidate the Affordable Care Act — the signature health care law otherwise known as "Obamacare."

"They would live their lives caught in a vise between Donald Trump’s twin legacies: his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, and his heartless crusade to take health care protections away from American families,” Biden will say at the Lancaster Recreation Center. Before the speech, Biden is scheduled to meet with local families to discuss health care issues.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration joined a coalition of Republican-led states in asking a federal appeals court to entirely overturn the Affordable Health Care Act — a decision that could leave millions uninsured.

The speech marks Biden’s latest attack on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Biden, in a speech outside Philadelphia, accused Trump of "flat-out surrendering" the fight against the disease and urged the president to "wake up" and "get to work."

Biden, on Thursday, will also hit Trump over recent comments at his first campaign rally in months that he wanted to slow down testing for the coronavirus.

"Testing unequivocally saves lives, and widespread testing is the key to opening up our economy again,” Biden will say. But Trump, he will add, "thinks finding out that more Americans are sick will make him look bad. And that’s what he’s worried about. He’s worried about looking bad."

Biden’s increased targeting of Pennsylvania makes sense: The state is among the most critical battlegrounds in the 2020 race and is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

As of Thursday, the state had the eighth-most confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the fifth-most deaths from the virus in the U.S.

The economic toll has been even more striking. Since March 14, at least 2.1 million Pennsylvanians (or nearly 1 in 3 workers in the state) have lost their jobs — the sixth-highest number during that period in the country.

The specific venue for the speech, however, is a surprising choice. While healthcare is a dominant industry in Lancaster County, Trump handily carried the county in the 2016 election, beating Hillary Clinton by nearly 20 percentage points. Former President Barack Obama also lost the county by double digits in both 2008 and 2012.