Saturday, 18 August, 2018

California’s Attorney General vows national fight to defend the ACA

The Trump administration is calling a key part of Obamacare that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional The Trump Administration Is Using a New Tactic to Dismantle Obamacare. What You Need to Know About It
Johnnie Parks | 11 June, 2018, 14:47

In a court filing late Thursday, the Trump administration is specifically urging the Texas federal court to strike down two provisions from the ACA: one that requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and the other that prevents insurers from charging individuals a higher premium due to their pre-existing condition.

The Justice Department concurred, saying the court should consider ordering that as of January 1, two popular parts of the law will be invalid: that people with preexisting conditions must receive coverage, and that they can not be charged more than healthier consumers.

In a brief filed Thursday in federal district court in Texas, the department argues that the individual mandate, as well as the community rating and guaranteed issue provisions of the law, are all unconstitutional and need not be defended in a case now pending before the court.

Repealing Obamacare has been a rallying cry for Republican candidates for the past eight years. "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". Without that form of tax, the new Administration document noted, the ACA mandate to buy insurance would be unconstitutional as beyond Congress's power to regulate interstate commercial activity. Yet he has granted standing to a group of 17 Democratic-led states that filed a brief on Thursday night arguing for the preservation of Obamacare, and will no doubt give them a fair hearing.

The federal lawsuit hinges on the ACA's individual mandate, or the requirement to get health coverage or pay a penalty. But insurers said the legal debate alone could cause turmoil in insurance markets this summer. "The decision by the Department of Justice to abandon critical patient protections is devastating for the millions of Americans who suffer from serious illnesses or have preexisting conditions and rely on those protections under current law to obtain life-saving healthcare", read a joint statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. For instance, in 2012 the Obama Justice Department said it would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which legally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman for federal purposes.

Becerra estimated that the states that back the health care law could lose half a trillion dollars in health care funding if the suit is successful. It will add fuel to Democrats' efforts to make health care a campaign issue in the mid-term elections.

The Trump administration's decision not to defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act could deal Democrats a sizable win going into the midterm elections, handing a party already prepared to run on health care a cudgel to use against vulnerable Republicans.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, said he had determined the individual mandate would be unconstitutional when the tax law takes effective in 2019. Yet how they would do so was far from clear, especially given Congress' inability so far under the administration to pass health-care legislation. It's unlikely that the entire law will be struck down.

"What the states are really trying to do is bootstrap a claim against other parts of the law, and there's absolutely no basis for this", Adler said in an e-mail. A central rule of ACA health plans is that they must welcome all customers, healthy and sick, and not charge higher premiums to those with preexisting conditions. In the legal filing, the Department of Justice argues in favor of invalidating protections for those Americans with pre-existing conditions.

But the administration disagrees with that position. They routinely defend policies they dislike and make arguments they personally disagree with.

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law.

Supreme Court ruled that opponents of the ACA individual coverage mandate could not win a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate, because the ACA individual mandate was a tax, and a federal law prohibits parties from seeking preliminary injunctions to block new federal taxes.

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

The Senate's top Democrats fired off a letter to President Trump on Friday to denounce the decision and urged Trump's Justice Department to reverse course. "That change eliminated the basis for the court's decision to uphold the ACA's constitutionality". The lawsuit will be heard by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas.

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