Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
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Trump administration urges court to strike down Obamacare rule

Trump administration urges court to strike down Obamacare rule

An obscure district court lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act became a potent threat to one of the law's most popular provisions late Thursday, when the Justice Department filed a brief arguing that as of January 1, 2019, the protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be invalidated.

But the Justice Department now says it won't defend a key part of the law 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.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 16 million Americans suffer from depression each year. "Congress needs to work in a bipartisan manner to develop a solution that covers pre-existing conditions and makes health care more affordable and accessible for every American".

The guarantees for coverage for people with pre-existing conditions are among those most valued by the public.

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

The nation's top insurers' lobby said Friday the administration's position is untenable and could destabilize the markets as insurers develop their offerings for next year.

But Congress repealed the tax penalty for people without insurance past year, and the individual mandate can no longer be described as a tax when the repeal takes effect in January, the brief says.

"Late last night, we informed a Texas court that we would not be defending the constitutionality of the Obamacare mandate", he continued.

Republicans have tried to blunt this tactic with a revival of what launched them into power in 2010: By arguing Democrats are hellbent on taking over all aspects of the health care system.

The administration's decision also is likely to further roil insurance markets that are seeing very large premium increases, fed in part by other moves by the Trump administration to loosen insurance regulations.


The Trump administration's startling decision to abandon one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions - protections for people with preexisting medical conditions - put Republicans on the defensive Friday and handed Democrats a potentially potent political message.

The chances for that argument succeeding are viewed with deep skepticism by legal experts, in part because Congress itself indicated that the rest of ObamaCare could still stand without the mandate when it moved to repeal the tax penalty past year.

This is a huge deal... the administration's behavior sets a unsafe precedent about the obligation of this and future presidents to follow their constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress....

"We won't sit back as Texas and others try yet again to dismantle our healthcare system".

Diabetes, pregnancy and arthritis are all considered a pre-existing condition.

A group of Democratic state attorneys general, lead by California's Xavier Becerra, are riding to the law's defense. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the lawyers' withdrawal had been a department decision, declining to specify whether the lawyers had personally objected to continuing on the case.

"Withdrawing from a case en masse like this, right before the brief is filed, is unheard of", noted Nicholas Bagley, a former Justice Department lawyer who now teaches at the University of Michigan Law School.

The issues in the court case are unlikely to be resolved quickly, but some experts said the added uncertainty could prompt insurers to seek higher premiums in 2019 for health plans sold to individuals. "Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019", AHIP said in a statement. 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.

Those with pre-existing conditions should continue being guaranteed coverage at affordable rates, said Orange County Legislator James O'Donnell, the Republican candidate for U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's 18th District seat.

The suit is being heard by Judge Reed O'Connell, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and has ruled against the ACA in other cases the past few years.

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