Monday, 18 June, 2018

Trump administration: Heart of health law unconstitutional

Trump justice department will stop defending key parts of Obamacare DOJ Argues Parts Of Obamacare Are Unconstitutional After Mandate Repeal
Celia Hoffman | 09 June, 2018, 15:39

Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted the two provisions in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday it won't defend the Affordable Care Act against a legal challenge of its constitutionality.

Texas and other GOP-led states have filed suit to strike down the entire law, with Congress recently repealing a provision that subjected those who failed to obtain health insurance to a fine, according to reports.

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 a year ago.

It backs up their contention that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional.

According to the AP, the administration said it agrees that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional without the fine and that language protecting those with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums should also be struck down.

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

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In many ways, the lawsuit, filed in February, is a replay of the politically divided litigation that ended with the Supreme Court upholding the health care overhaul in 2012.

The Democrats argued that DOJ's refusal to defend the controversial health care law could eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and "have profound consequences for patients, the health care system and the American economy".

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

Donald Verrilli Jr., President Barack Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer who defended the law, called the decision "a sad moment".

"Justice Department attorneys don't withdraw from cases simply because the government is making an argument the lawyers think the courts should or would reject", he said. Indeed, sign-up season for 2018 under the Trump administration resulted in only a slight enrollment drop-off from Obama's previous year.

Some experts have said that regardless of how the case is decided, insurers could raise premiums for next year due to the uncertainty the case is causing, a point echoed by the Democrats.

The mandate in Obamacare was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

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