DOJ Won't Defend Obamacare in Lawsuit Brought by 20 States

09 Juin, 2018, 15:42 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

In a brief filed Thursday night in a Texas federal court, the Justice Department said it would not defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against the latest legal challenge to its constitutionality, the Washington Post first reported.

In a brief filed in a federal court in Texas, the department said a tax law signed previous year by President Donald Trump that eliminated penalties for not having health insurance rendered the so-called individual mandate under Obamacare unconstitutional.

While U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions argues that no reasonable arguments exist to defend Obamacare, California led a coalition of 15 states and D.C.to fight Texas's suit, saying the individual mandate has twice survived Supreme Court review and attempts by Congress to repeal the law, thus legitimizing it. Stripping away Obamacare would create a health crisis by putting at risk some $500 billion in health-care funding, according to a statement issued by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. It also says the provisions shielding people with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums also fall. But under the GOP tax bill signed into law last December, tax penalties for people without insurance were eliminated.

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

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

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The Trump administration is trying out a new tactic to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): calling at least one provision of it unconstitutional.

"I find it impossible to believe that the many talented lawyers at the department could not come up with any arguments to defend the ACA's insurance market reforms, which have made such a difference to millions of Americans", Verrilli said.

Shortly before the government's court filing, three career lawyers at the Justice Department withdrew from the case and were replaced by two political appointees, according to court filings. He said the department only refused to defend the pre-existing conditions provision as well as one forbidding insurers from charging people in the same community different rates based on gender, age, health status or other factors.

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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