Justice Dept. Declines to Defend Some Key ACA Provisions

11 June, 2018, 07:34 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Donald Trump

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.

"United States, the department will not defend the constitutionality of [the individual mandate], and will argue that certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are inseverable from that provision", U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) explaining his decision. Prior to the ACA, insurers often rejected applicants who were ill or had pre-existing conditions, or only offered them limited coverage.

Mr. MacArthur said it would be hard for Congress to revisit the brutal health care fight, although it's unclear if the lawsuit will get "any legs under it". "I think what they're doing is wrong, I think their attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act have been wrong, but look, they're the majority, they set the schedule". "Congress needs to work in a bipartisan manner to develop a solution that covers pre-existing conditions and makes health care more affordable and accessible for every American".

In the past, polls have found that both Republicans and Democrats favor protecting coverage for the tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The argument evokes Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s 2012 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate as a valid use of Congress's taxing power. But the uncertainty it creates in the meantime could rattle the law's insurance marketplaces just as insurers are starting to file rate requests for next year. The guarantee that people should be able to buy insurance regardless of their health history has been a popular provision of the divisive law - one that President Trump has praised, calling the law's prohibition on denying insurance to sick people "one of the strongest assets" of the Affordable Care Act in a "60 Minutes" interview before he took office.

The legal challenge led by the state of Texas argues that these consumer protections - as well as the law's multibillion-dollar program for expanding the Medicaid safety net to poor Americans - should be scrapped because Congress past year repealed the penalty on Americans who don't have health coverage.

Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo, the state's top health insurance regulator, wrote in a Crain's op-ed last month that she would not let the uncertainty stemming from the Trump administration's actions on the ACA lead to an increase in premiums.

The issue became a flash point that helped derail Republican efforts to repeal the law previous year, with opponents of the party's health bills speaking loudly against weakening protections for the sick and vulnerable. The mandate has always been a sticking point for conservatives, who argue that the government should not be telling individuals what coverage they must have. "Congress has now kicked that flimsy support from beneath the law". They will also have to contend with the following assertion from the Attorney General of the United States: "I have determined that the plaintiffs in Texas v".

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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.

Epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, lupus, sleep apnea, and pregnancy are all examples of pre-existing conditions. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. In this case, California is leading a group of Democrat-led states in defending the law.

Sessions said in his letter that the Justice Department was not arguing that the entire law does not pass constitutional muster.

"Withdrawing from a case en masse like this, right before the brief is filed, is unheard of", noted Nicholas Bagley, a former Justice Department lawyer who now teaches at the University of Michigan Law School. Ultimately, the issue could be decided by the Supreme Court.

In parting company with the challenging states on their demand that all of the ACA be nullified, the Administration document said it was hypothetical speculation whether the entire program would collapse without the individual mandate and the related insurance coverage requirements.

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.

Because the lawsuit could easily go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a process that could take years, the protections for people with preexisting conditions are likely to stay in place during that period.

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