Trump Administration Won't Defend ACA

Trump Administration Won't Defend ACA

Besides urging nullification of the insurance-buying mandate itself, the new government position argued that two of the most popular features of the ACA must fall along with it: the requirement that insurance companies can not deny health insurance to individuals because of existing or pre-existing medical conditions, and the requirement that they can not charge higher insurance premiums based on existing or pre-existing conditions.

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.

Democrats don't mind this comparison, in part because polls have shown that not only is health care a top issue for many voters, but it's an issue that helps Democrats.

The administration filed a response [memorandum, PDF] Thursday to the complaint along with a letter [text] from Attorney General Jeff Sessions [profile] agreeing with the plaintiffs and calling for a declaratory judgment by the court to rule that the individual mandate unconstitutional.

The two provisions, along with Obamacare's requirement that insurers offer comprehensive coverage, have been targets of Republicans seeking to repeal the law and lower premiums.

This claim is based on two features of the law's text: It contains no severability clause - standard language to the effect that the statute would remain valid even if one or more of its provisions proved to be in violation of existing law - and its explicit assertion that the ACA can not function without the individual mandate. 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 ACA individual major medical insurance mandate provision originally required people who failed to get covered to pay a penalty.

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.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter to Congress that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act...as recently amended, forces an unconstitutional and irrational regime onto the States and their citizens. These include a "ban on insurers denying coverage and charging higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions".

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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". But under the GOP tax bill signed into law last December, tax penalties for people without insurance were eliminated. That's not exactly what the attorneys general were arguing, but that's what the Justice Department position is.

Moreover, if the Trump administration did not want to defend the ACA expressly, it could simply have filed a jurisdictional motion, asserting that the states are not injured by the lack of an individual mandate penalty and that the litigation is not yet timely, as the tax is still in effect. The government has essentially pivoted from defending the law to agreeing with the states that the court should demolish it.

"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections", the group said.

President Donald Trump's legal team has made a move that could kill a key part of the Affordable Care Act, disrupt the individual major medical market in 2019, and leave most of the ACA intact.

The main trade association for health insurers came out strongly against the administration's position.

But it said the rest of the law, including Medicaid expansion, can remain in place.

Just hours before the Justice Department officially withdrew from the case, three of the staff attorneys who had been working on it withdrew.

Recent polling indicates that this could be a political victor for Democrats attempting to recapture at least one chamber of Congress. These are lawyers who have made arguments they personally disagreed with countless times. Cortez ScottBishop from royal wedding marches to White House Bishop from royal wedding to march against "America First" policies in DC Supreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits MORE (Va.), Frank Pallone Jr.

The case is Texas v. U.S., 4:18-cv-001 67, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

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