Trump Sides With Texas, Won't Defend Obamacare in Court

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In court papers, the Justice Department said it doesn't want to stop the law in its tracks, but said they agreed with the plaintiffs who say the most famous parts of the law are now illegal.

"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.

The Justice Department thus claims that the individual mandate is unconstitutional as of January 1.

America's Health Insurance Plans, a major lobby for insurers, said in a statement that although premiums for next year will increase because the individual mandate penalty for not carrying insurance is being zeroed out in 2019, the market has been stabilizing.

While the case still must play out before the nation's high court, the Justice Department's decision to not defend the law could create some uncertainty for health insurers that sell plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, according to Larry Levitt, a Kaiser Family Foundation senior vice president who closely monitors the health law.

Weighing in on a Texas challenge to the health law, the Justice Department argued that legally and practically the popular consumer protections can not be separated from the unpopular insurance mandate, which Congress has repealed, effective next year.

"If the Trump administration is successful in arguing against the constitutionality of protecting patients' access to care, it will have immediate and disastrous effect on our health care system and the American people", the lawmakers say.

Texas and the accompanying states have asked for a preliminary injunction that could suspend the entire law while the case plays out in court. It also said that provisions shielding people with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums and limiting how much insurers can charge older Americans should fall as well.

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Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress have sought to dismantle Obamacare, which sought to expand insurance coverage to more Americans. In the meantime, the existing law will likely remain.

California and 15 other states also filed a brief Thursday to intervene and defend the ACA and its consumer protections.

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

"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.

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

The Post reports that the three-page letter to Pelosi from Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that the DOJ adopted its position "with the approval of the President of the United States". Andy Slavitt, who led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama, called the action "the biggest health care news of the year" on Twitter.

The Democrats further raised concerns that even if the Justice Department's arguments are unsuccessful, the administration's move could still "raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy and weaken our democracy for years to come".

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