Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Justice Department says heart of Affordable Care Act unconstitutional

Trump justice department will stop defending key parts of Obamacare DOJ Argues Parts Of Obamacare Are Unconstitutional After Mandate Repeal
Anna Jefferson | 10 June, 2018, 17:56

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states who brought the suit.

The Trump administration told a federal court Thursday it won't defend Obamacare against a lawsuit that's trying to strike down most of the law.

"In refusing to follow bipartisan tradition and defend the ACA in the US 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.

Friday, the insurance industry warned in stark terms of "harm that would come to millions of Americans" if such protections are struck down, causing premiums "to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients".

The Justice Department rarely declines to argue in favor of existing law in court and this decision will put pressure on the Affordable Care Act, the formal name for former President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement. In the tax law, Congress repealed the penalty for people who fail to have health insurance starting in 2019.

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 past year - essentially, repeal key parts of the Obama health law. It also says the provisions shielding people with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums also fall.

Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress have sought to dismantle Obamacare, which sought to expand insurance coverage to more Americans.

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Becerra is leading an effort by Democratic attorney generals from others states and the District of Columbia to defend the ACA against that lawsuit.

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.

"So many families from every political persuasion will lose the ability to find and purchase coverage because they have a pre-existing condition", Wood said. "The brief filed by the Trump Administration yesterday represents a shocking break from precedent, and relies on legally dubious, partisan claims to argue against the constitutionality of the current law", they said in a joint statement.

The mandate introduced with Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

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.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a Thursday letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, said while the administration has traditionally defended the constitutionality of such provisions, he has decided "this is a rare care where the proper course is to forgo defense".

The Washington Post reported that three career Justice attorneys involved in the case - Joel McElvain, Eric Beckenhauer and Rebecca Kopplin - withdrew before the filing at 6 p.m. Thursday, an unusual time for such an action.


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