Justice Department won't defend Affordable Care Act provisions in court

10 June, 2018, 17:58 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Sessions sends letter to Ryan explaining rationale for not defending ObamaCare

The Trump administration delivered an early midterms present to Democrats Thursday night when the Justice Department chose to side with 20 GOP states in a lawsuit seeking to gut the core protections of the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions.

The states argue that because Congress recently repealed a provision that people without health insurance must pay a fine, the requirement to have health insurance is unconstitutional because it is no longer considered a tax.

The move is part of a lawsuit filed by 20 GOP led states who argue Obamacare should be overturned.

According to the AP, the administration said it agrees that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional without the fine and that language protecting those with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums should also be struck down. The Trump administration also argued that the ACA's guaranteed issue and community rating requirement, which ban insurers from denying coverage or charging people more based on their health, can only work in tandem with the mandate and must also be invalidated.

About 1.5 million Californians buy coverage through the state's ACA exchange, Covered California, and almost 4 million have joined Medicaid as a result of the program's expansion under the law.

Texas had asked the court to consider the provision of the ACA requiring individuals to have health insurance unconstitutional.

"Just read the brief of the states that intervened to defend the law".


Timothy Jost, law professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University in Virginia said the Trump administration is trying to persuade the court to do what it was unable to achieve in Congress a year ago - essentially, repeal key parts of the Obama health law. "That change eliminated the basis for the court's decision to uphold the ACA's constitutionality".

Loosening the health law's rules on pre-existing conditions and on charging more to older adults is a key goal for the Trump administration.

"Because the mandate is unconstitutional, those. elements must fail as well", he said. There is reason to believe the judge may accept the Trump administration's arguments. The repeal takes effect next year. Tom Miller of the American Enterprise Institute told Politico that the refusal to defend key parts of the ACA shows that the Trump administration is going even further in its battle against the health care law. The Trump administration's brief would eliminate those protections by 2019.

"In refusing to follow bipartisan tradition and defend the ACA in the USA 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. Insurers say the individual health insurance market is more stable than people might think.

More recently, the White House and Department of Health and Human Services have been working to make it easier for consumers to buy relatively cheap health plans that exclude some of the benefits the ACA requires.

That argument is likely to be lost on consumers, said Robert Blendon, a polling expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - particularly in the heat of an election that will determine control of Congress.

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