Justice Department says heart of health law unconstitutional

09 June, 2018, 15:41 | Author: Sherman Richardson

Americans are very divided over the Affordable Care Act, but one piece that many support is the law's protections for those with pre-existing conditions. The court held that Congress was able to offer people a choice: get insurance, or pay a tax.

Three attorneys for the government withdrew from the case just minutes before the Justice Department's filing in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, which signaled an internal rift within the administration over its role in defending US law, according to University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley.

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.

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 previous year - essentially, repeal key parts of the Obama health law.

While U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions argues that no reasonable arguments exist to defend Obamacare, California led a coalition of 15 states and D.C.to fight Texas's suit, saying the individual mandate has twice survived Supreme Court review and attempts by Congress to repeal the law, thus legitimizing it. Stripping away Obamacare would create a health crisis by putting at risk some $500 billion in health-care funding, according to a statement issued by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

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These consumer protections proved enormously popular with Americans and are among the reasons why efforts to repeal Obamacare in Congress failed previous year.

Removing consumer friendly provisions like guaranteed issue, whereby health insurers can not deny coverage to applicants or charge more based on health status, will result in renewed uncertainty in the market as well as push up rates for older and sicker patients, AHIP added. However, if the federal court sides with the plaintiffs, those with pre-existing conditions could once again be denied coverage. "This was often the case before the law took effect and would likely be the same should these essential protections be eliminated".

Democrats are seeking to tie the move into their argument that the Trump administration is "sabotaging" health care and driving up premiums, a key midterm message.

Insurers, meanwhile, warned that the administration's actions could rock the individual market and could lead to higher premiums, especially for those battling illnesses.

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