Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Donald Trump is publicly criticizing Obamacare.

Though Republican talk of repealing Obamacare, formerly known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), largely quieted down in recent years, the former president has sought to revive the debate. He claimed this week that he would “seriously look at alternatives” to replace the landmark healthcare bill if he is elected in 2024.

Following three major lawsuits that made it to the Supreme Court and largely upheld the ACA, most policy wonks agreed that it wouldn’t be a priority for GOP candidates heading into next year’s elections.

However, in a Truth Social post this week, Trump argued that the cost of Obamacare is “out of control,” adding that it’s “not good healthcare.”

“I’m seriously looking at alternatives,” Trump wrote. “We had a couple of Republican Senators who campaigned for six years against it, and then raised their hands not to terminate it. It was a low point for the Republican party, but we should never give up.”

In the post, Trump referred to a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal that claims the ACA has increased healthcare prices.

Since then, Trump’s comments have appeared to stir up the more-than-decade-old debate and prompted a response from the Biden administration.

Biden leans into healthcare record

The White House not only sought to counter Trump’s comments but also utilize them as material for their own reelection campaign. 

The Biden team has been ramping up efforts to tout the president’s healthcare record, emphasizing his efforts to lower prescription drug prices with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022.

In a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa retweeted a Protect Our Care post that says repealing the ACA means “ripping away protections” for the more than 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, raising premium costs and “putting insurance companies back in charge.”

Recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that most Americans are OK with the law – or at least don’t have significant opposition to it. The survey found nearly 60% of Americans feel favorably toward the ACA, compared to 40% who don’t.

The reignition of a debate over a law that is largely popular among Americans and has been supported in the courts may have an unintended consequence for Trump and down ballot Republicans, according to political observers.

A recent article in The Hill noted that Biden’s campaign received a “much-needed jolt” from Trump’s comments, with a campaign source telling the publication that the team decided to “juice it out as much as we possibly can.” 

The debate also happens to coincide with the release of a 60-second campaign ad about Biden’s healthcare commitments.

Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also joined in on the conversation this week, with Warren comparing Trump’s healthcare policy with Biden’s on X. 

“Donald Trump tried to repeal Obamacare and promises to try again,” Warren wrote. “Joe Biden lowered health insurance premiums, capped the cost of insulin for seniors, and signed the first-ever law letting Medicare negotiate lower prescription drug costs. The choice is clear.”

Trump doubles down while GOP ponders

Despite the Democrats seemingly welcoming his comments challenging the ACA, Trump shot back on Wednesday, posting another message on Truth Social. 

In the post, he stated that he didn’t want to terminate Obamacare, but rather, “I want to REPLACE IT with MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE. Obamacare Sucks!!!”

Though Trump dug in, some Republicans raised eyebrows at the comments, with one Trump adviser telling CNN that the Truth Social post came “completely out of nowhere.” The adviser added that the team has not been talking to him about healthcare.

Other Trump advisers told the outlet that bringing up the ACA as a major issue in the 2024 elections would be a “political loser,” given that most Americans are generally content with the law.

After all, repeated attempts during Trump’s time in office to repeal the ACA failed, most famously with the late Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), siding with Democrats in a vote to keep the law in place in July 2017.

“Boy, I haven’t thought about that one in a while,” Sen. Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said, according to POLITICO. “I just don’t know what [Trump’s] thinking or how we would go about doing that. That fight, as you know, was six years ago now. And so, if he’s got some ideas, we’re open to them.”

Notably, Trump’s comments come during the annual open enrollment period where millions of Americans make their selections for benefits and coverage for the upcoming year.

As of December 2023, some 40 million Americans have coverage under the ACA, which the Department of Health and Human Services has said is the highest total on record.