Trump DOJ looks to gut key Obamacare provision

Trump DOJ looks to gut key Obamacare provision

The Trump administration said in a court filing late Thursday that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that people have health insurance and provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions.

The Justice Department said that also nullified two other major provisions of Obamacare linked to the individual mandate, including one barring insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions.

In a court case filed by Texas and 19 other states, the Justice Department said the requirement for people to have insurance - the individual mandate - was unconstitutional. A CBS News poll of 64 competitive House districts also found that health care is the top issue for voters, ahead of jobs and wages as well as immigration.

They further cast the administration's brief, which was filed in federal court Thursday, as an "attack" on both the rule of law and the stability of the United States' health care system. MacArthur worked on legislation to continue pre-existing condition protections during the GOP's unsuccessful effort to repeal Obamacare previous year.

Republicans have been trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act - a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's legacy - since it was enacted in 2010 without any Republican votes. Even President Donald Trump called it one of the law's "strongest assets" during an interview with "60 Minutes" shortly after he won the election. But in this instance it agrees with the state that the individual mandate and other requirements should be deemed illegitimate as of January 1, 2019.

The lawsuit argues that with the mandate to purchase insurance still technically in place, but the financial penalty for those who don't abide by it being removed beginning in 2020, Congress' taxing power no longer applies to the provision, leaving it unconstitutional. The move could upend insurance markets for next year and change the dynamic of this fall's elections. In their suit, lodged in February in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, they argue that the entire law is now invalid.

These sections of the law, along with the mandate that insurers provide comprehensive coverage, are the bedrock of Obamacare's protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage signed his name onto the 20-state lawsuit as one of the plaintiffs in the case that, if successful, would gut pre-existing condition protections enshrined in the Affordable Care Act.


"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.

"When Congress reformed the tax system in December 2017, it removed the tax penalty for failing to comply with the mandate", Reyes said. 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 letter acknowledges that the decision not to defend an existing law deviates from history but contends that it is not unprecedented. 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.

Many health care experts disagree with that position.

For years, Republicans said they would protect people who suffer from preexisting conditions and were priced out of the individual market.

This question of statutory interpretation does not involve the ACA's constitutionality and therefore does not implicate the Department's general practice of defending the constitutionality of federal law.

In an unusual filing just before 6 p.m. Thursday, when the brief was due, the three career Justice attorneys involved in the case - Joel McElvain, Eric Beckenhauer and Rebecca Kopplin - withdrew.

Recent polling indicates that this could be a political victor for Democrats attempting to recapture at least one chamber of Congress.

Sessions agreed that the executive branch has a "longstanding tradition of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense". Judge Reed O'Connor was named to the court by President George W. Bush and has ruled against other aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Cortez ScottBishop from royal wedding marches to White House Bishop from royal wedding to march against "America First" policies in DC Supreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits MORE (Va.), Frank Pallone Jr.

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