VIDEO - On CNN's New Day, Coons says Republicans will be "the party of taking healthcare away." In Delaware, 400,000 people have pre-existing conditions.

Sen. Chris Coons joined CNN New Day to discuss the Trump Administration’s latest attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the Special Counsel’s report, and legislation he introduced yesterday with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to enforce laws already on the books to stop criminals already barred from buying a gun from doing so.

“I’ll tell you, the most important thing about the Affordable Care Act, for more than 150 million Americans who get their healthcare through their employer, is that it protects you against discrimination by an insurance company if you have a pre-existing condition,” said Coons.

“In my little state of Delaware, we have 900,000 people [and] 400,000 of us have a pre-existing condition, and one of the worst parts about how health insurance worked before Obamacare was that you’d get health insurance through your employer and think it was strong and reliable -- right up until you needed it. And, that insurance companies were very adept at finding ways to deny coverage, in particular if you had a pre-existing condition.

I don’t think Americans want to go back to the day of trapdoor health care policies like that. I think the Affordable Care Act, that protection in particular, is widely popular, and the Republicans will find that since they don’t really have a replacement bill that does what the Affordable Care Act does, stripping away that key protection through legal action by the Trump administration, will prove wildly unpopular.”

On removing protections for pre-existing conditions under the ACA:

Well, that’s great that former Sen. Santorum thinks that. I’ll tell you, the most important thing about the Affordable Care Act, for more than 150 million Americans who get their healthcare through their employer, is that it protects you against discrimination by an insurance company if you have a pre-existing condition. In my little state of Delaware, we have 900,000 people. 400,000 of us have a pre-existing condition, and one of the worst parts about how health insurance worked before Obamacare was that you’d get health insurance through your employer and think it was strong and reliable -- right up until you needed it. And, that insurance companies were very adept at finding ways to deny coverage, in particular if you had a pre-existing condition. I don’t think Americans want to go back to the day of trapdoor health care policies like that. I think the Affordable Care Act, that protection in particular, is widely popular, and the Republicans will find that since they don’t really have a replacement bill that does what the Affordable Care Act does, stripping away that key protection through legal action by the Trump administration, will prove wildly unpopular.

On if there’s a window of opportunity to improve the ACA:

There is. I’ve proposed several bills to try and improve on the Affordable Care Act, in particular, to make access to health insurance more affordable for small businesses. Unfortunately, it’s been really difficult to find bipartisan cosponsors. Sen.  Toomey of Pennsylvania and I actually did introduce, and get passed, I think the only statutory revision to the Affordable Care Act. We worked with a dozen other members, House and Senate. But it was a very small piece of improving the Affordable Care Act. He’s also a good partner with me in legislating on background checks for guns, something we JUST introduced yesterday. But on healthcare, it’s been difficult to find bipartisan partners really willing to strengthen the foundation of the Affordable Care Act, rather than what the Trump administration is trying to do, which is to strip it away and replace it with something that would literally JUST hand-block grants to states.

On House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff continuing to investigate collusion:

Well, I think we’re capable of addressing two different issues at the same time, and if the Intelligence Committee in the House wants to continue the counterintelligence aspect of this issue, I think that’s fine. It’s undisputable now, particularly given Mueller’s report on this topic, that the Russians interfered in our 2016 election. I think, likely, from what we’re hearing from the intelligence community, they will try to do so again in 2020. So, I do think Congress has a role, in particular looking forward, making sure that our next election is not at risk of being interfered with, or being interrupted, by any hostile powers. But what I hear from folks up and down Delaware, Alison, is that they’re concerned about healthcare. They’re concerned about healthcare, about better jobs, about the opioid crisis, and they want to see us find ways to work together to deal with those issues.

On gun legislation:

Well, there is a practice now where if you go into a federally licensed gun store and apply to buy a firearm, you have to pass a background check. That means you fill out a piece of paper, and you have to check a box that says “I’ve not been convicted of a felony, such that I’m prohibited from owning a gun.” In about 12 states, the state law enforcement agency runs that background check.

So, if you actually are not allowed to have a gun, and you lie and try to buy a gun, they know immediately. And in the state of Pennsylvania, represented by Sen.  Toomey, that has meant hundreds of people have been arrested by state law enforcement for violating the terms -- the limitations on their gun ownership rights that comes from being a convicted felon. In Delaware, and about 30 other states that’s not the case. The gun store runs that background check directly with federal law enforcement, and state and local law enforcement are not notified.

It is a tremendous predictor that you are trying to get a gun, probably to do something bad, if you are a person who is either previously adjudicated mentally ill, or previously convicted of a felony. So, law enforcement leaders with whom I’ve spoken in Delaware are eager to have this tool. Prompt notification from federal law enforcement when a person prohibited tries to get a gun.

We had a good bipartisan hearing on the Judiciary Committee yesterday, Alison, about gun violence notification laws, exactly the kind of the law that, if it were on the books in Florida, might well have prevented the Parkland shooting. And, what we can federally do to encourage and support those laws -- I also raised this NICS denial notification bill that Sen.  Toomey, Sen.  Rubio, Sen.  Jones and I introduced yesterday, and I think it’s an important tool in the toolkit for law enforcement.