Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
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DOJ's move on ACA may be Rx for trouble for GOP

DOJ's move on ACA may be Rx for trouble for GOP

Supporters of the health care law expressed considerable alarm on Friday. The repeal takes effect next year.

For the first time, the Trump Administration moved on Thursday to challenge the constitutionality of the key section of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") that required most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a financial penalty as part of their taxes.

The issue became a flash point that helped derail Republican efforts to repeal the law a year ago, with opponents of the party's health bills speaking loudly against weakening protections for the sick and vulnerable.

The decision by the department (DoJ) was announced in a filing in a federal court in Texas, part of a lawsuit brought by Texas and other Republican-led states to strike down the entire law. "Now we're in the situation where very sick people have gotten insurance, and so changing the rules means taking coverage away from people who genuinely need it".

Legal specialists also point out that the Trump administration's failure to defend the federal health law could have long-lasting implications for the rule of law in the nation.

Insurers are now in the midst of deciding whether to participate in the individual marketplaces created under the law in 2019 and, if so, what filing rates with state regulators will be.

MacArthur's district is a target for Democrats attempting to flip at least 23 House seats the party needs to take control of the chamber after the November election.

Becerra's pledge came in response to an announcement from the administration Thursday that it would not defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act in court.

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 an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week, 22 percent of respondents said it would be the most important factor in deciding their vote, ahead of the economy, guns, taxes and immigration.

Republicans on Capitol Hill had no advance warning that the administration was going to assert that protections for people with preexisting conditions is unconstitutional - a position that defies President Donald Trump's promises to maintain those protections.

She urged both parties to work together to improve health markets instead.

Bagley said that the Trump administration's move does not signal the end of Obamacare, although it does further cloud its future. There is reason to believe the judge may accept the Trump administration's arguments.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, predicted that the resurrection of the issue would mobilize voters, saying, "There's nothing quite like the administration taking an action in court to illustrate the simple fact that they are still coming after your health care". Allowing the Democratic officials to join the suit "allows us to protect the health and well-being of these Americans by defending affordable access to health care".

The states argue that now that Congress repealed the penalty for not having coverage in the tax bill past year, ObamaCare's individual mandate can no longer be upheld as a tax, and that it therefore should be invalidated. That's because insurers already expected the Trump administration would not defend the ACA - and they know that a resolution of the case will be years away, says industry consultant Robert Laszewski. "I don't even understand what the legal argument would be", said Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., one of the most endangered Republican incumbents in the midterms.

"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost.

But it's not clear exactly how many Americans have pre-existing conditions and could be affected.

Jost said it's telling that three career Justice Department lawyers refused to support the administration's position.

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

The attorneys general argue that a Supreme Court decision in 2012 saved the ACA from being declared an unconstitutional overreach of congressional power by declaring the penalty a tax - and pointing out that Congress has the power to levy taxes.

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