Trump justice department will stop defending key parts of Obamacare

10 June, 2018, 17:58 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Justice Department says heart of Obama Care unconstitutional

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.

An obscure district court lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act became a potent threat to one of the law's most popular provisions late Thursday, when the Justice Department filed a brief arguing that as of January 1, 2019, the protections for people with preexisting conditions should be invalidated.

Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the lawsuit said that without the individual mandate, Obamacare in its entirety was unlawful.

The chances for that argument succeeding are viewed with deep skepticism by legal experts, in part because Congress itself indicated that the rest of ObamaCare could still stand without the mandate when it moved to repeal the tax penalty past year.

Stacy Stanford, policy analyst for the Utah Health Policy Project, a think tank and advocacy organization that is also a federal health exchange enrollment hub, said "the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and therefore the administration should be defending it". In this case, California is leading a group of Democrat-led states in defending the law.

The administration does not go as far as the Texas attorney general and his counterparts. If the Justice Department's analysis is ultimately persuasive, however, other parts of the law, including Medicaid expansion, could stay in place. "That change eliminated the basis for the court's decision to uphold the ACA's constitutionality". Texas and other states are suing to strike down the entire law because Congress recently repealed a provision that people without health insurance must pay a fine. These include a "ban on insurers denying coverage and charging higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions".

Bailey's spokesman Corey Uhden said Friday that he wouldn't comment on the constitutionality of the ACA provisions.

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Shortly before the government's court filing Thursday, three career lawyers at the Justice Department withdrew from the case and were replaced by two political appointees, according to court filings.

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.

The suit is being heard by Judge Reed O'Connell, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and has ruled against the ACA in other cases the past few years. "The Trump Administration is perpetuating the same cruel vision of higher costs and less coverage that House Republicans voted for in the monstrosity of Trumpcare".

Insurers face a more immediate quandary.

Many advocates spoke out against the Trump administration's stance on the law's consumer protections. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released in early June found that 36 percent people are "very uncomfortable" with a candidate who supports repealing the ACA - a significant jump up from 25 percent in 2010.

"When Congress reformed the tax system in December 2017, it removed the tax penalty for failing to comply with the mandate", Reyes said.

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

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