July 15 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his healthcare plan -- a modified version of the Affordable Care Act, plus a public coverage option run by the federal government.
The former vice president announced the plan in a campaign video, in which he said "we should be building from what we have" instead of starting over with a new model.
A key part of the plan is a public option for government-run coverage, which would be available to roughly 5 million Americans in states that have not expanded Medicare. Biden's campaign said the plan would cover 97 percent of Americans.
"We should not be starting from scratch," Biden said. "There is no time to wait."
Biden said Americans under his plan would be able to keep their employer-based insurance. It also seeks to prevent states from passing laws to outlaw abortion.
In a video posted to Twitter, Biden called the Affordable Care Act an "historic achievement" that gave 20 million Americans coverage they didn't have before. He said while he understands the appeal of a "Medicaid for All" plan, like that advocated by candidate Bernie Sanders, it doesn't make sense to abandon the ACA.
Since President Donald Trump took office, he and Republicans have unsuccessfully attempted multiple times to repeal the healthcare law. A GOP plan, called the America Health Care Act, did not find sufficient support in Congress.
"I knew the Republicans would do everything in their power to repeal Obamacare. They still are," Biden said in his video. "But I'm surprised that so many Democrats are running on getting rid of it."
Biden's plan proposes to cap drug price increases at the rate of inflation, and create a health department review board that would link the cost of specialty drugs to their average prices in other nations. It would also expand access to contraception and abortion and restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
Biden said his proposal would cost $750 billion over the first 10 years and will be covered by reversing some of the Trump administration's tax cuts.
"Building on the ACA is the quickest way to get more people insured and improve affordability, while not taking on any powerful health industry group or disrupting coverage for those who already have it," said Larry Levitt, executive vice president of health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The plan was unveiled just days after Biden's nonprofit Cancer Initiative suspended operations through the end of the campaign. Biden and his wife Jill resigned from the organization's board in April.
The organization was launched in 2017 as stemming from the Obama administration's Cancer Moonshot program.
"We remain personally committed to the cause, but at this time will have to pause efforts," said initiative President Greg Simon.