GOP risks fallout over move on health law | Health care act

12 June, 2018, 01:48 | Author: Kara Nash
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The Justice Department filed its brief Thursday in challenge to the 2010 health-care law filed by Texas and 19 other states, report Politico, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Axios and the Washington Post. That would include such popular items as the guarantee that young people can stay on their family's health insurance plans until age 26, subsidies to help poorer people to afford health insurance, the existing state-level health insurance marketplaces ("exchanges"), the expansion of the Medicaid health insurance program for poor people, and a mandate that larger employers provided minimum levels of health insurance coverage for their workers.

Democrats are coming out swinging against the Department of Justice's move to back a lawsuit brought forth by a group of Republican attorneys general against the Affordable Care Act that, if successful, could result in the dismantling of some of the most significant parts of the health care law.

"The administration's attempt to eliminate protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions is just the latest - and potentially the most damaging - example of the coordinated effort by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, driving up uninsured rates and out-of-pocket costs for Americans", the Democrats said.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged President Donald Trump to reverse the decision. "At the worst it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions". "It is now abundantly clear that in passing a massive tax giveaway to the wealthy, Republicans also believe they signed into law permission for insurance companies to once again come after basic protections for the middle class".

"What the states are really trying to do is bootstrap a claim against other parts of the law, and there's absolutely no basis for this", Adler said in an e-mail. However, Sessions added, "Outside of these two provisions of the ACA, the department will continue to argue that [the individual mandate] is severable from the remaining provisions of the ACA" and therefore the rest of the law is valid.

Senior House Democrats on health care committees called the administration's refusal to defend the federal health law a "stunning attack on the rule of law".


But Marty Lederman, who worked in the Obama Justice Department and now teaches at Georgetown Law School, says the move was unprecedented. The court held that Congress was able to offer people a choice: get insurance, or pay a tax. In this case, California is leading a group of Democrat-led states in defending the law.

"In refusing to follow bipartisan tradition and defend the ACA in the US federal court system, the Trump administration is nakedly admitting that it wants to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, breaking a promise that the president has made time and again", said Topher Spiro, vice president of health policy at the Center for American Progress. It takes effect next year. Conservatives at the time accused the Justice Department of politicization.

Becerra accused the administration of going “AWOL.” It “has chose to abandon the hundreds of millions of people who depend on” the law, he said in an interview with Kaiser Health News. Until the Trump Administration (which is the target of the lawsuit) filed its views on Thursday, the case had been building without either side knowing what the government position would be.

Regardless of the federal court's ruling-which observers said may come by late summer or early fall-New York state law now protects consumers from such actions by insurers.

If the court takes that action, "the ACA's provisions containing the individual mandate as well as the guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements will all be invalid beginning on January 1, 2019", the department lawyers write in a memorandum addressed to the court. Now, of course, as I mentioned, the attorneys general say that the entire rest of the law is unconstitutional without that penalty for not having insurance. "Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019". They must grapple with how to protect the state's insurance market amid a continued assault against the federal health law.

Both of these types of policies are expected to have lower premiums, but would cover fewer benefits - making them more attractive to healthier Americans who don't need comprehensive coverage.

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