Trump administration will no longer defend the Affordable Care Act in court

10 Juin, 2018, 17:57 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Justice Department says heart of Obama Care unconstitutional

The Trump administration, in a late-Thursday court filing, stated that it would no longer defend provisions of the health care law, known as Obamacare, that require people to have health insurance and guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions, the Associated Press reported.

The Trump administration argues that because the new tax law eliminates the penalty for not buying insurance, the Supreme Court's previous ruling permitting the mandate as a tax no longer applies.

At issue is a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general on February 26, which charged that Congress' changes to the law in last year's tax bill rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional.

These sections of the law, along with the mandate that insurers provide comprehensive coverage, are the bedrock of Obamacare's protections for those with pre-existing conditions. It argued that the Supreme Court held that the mandate was unconstitutional in 2012 as a legal command, but upheld it as a tax penalty. John McCain's dramatic "thumbs down" vote last July, the Trump administration has taken other steps that Obamacare advocates say weaken the law.

However, the Trump administration believes the provision of the ACA guaranteeing affordable rates to those with pre-existing conditions must be thrown out with the individual mandate.

A group of 17 Democratic-led states that have won standing in the case also filed a brief on Thursday night arguing for the ACA's preservation.

Stacy Stanford, policy analyst for the Utah Health Policy Project, a think tank and advocacy organization that is also a federal health exchange enrollment hub, said "the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and therefore the administration should be defending it".

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What are the ramifications of the Trump administration making these arguments?

"Because the mandate is unconstitutional, those. elements must fail as well", he said.

Reyes said Friday that "the individual mandate can not be severed" from the parts of the Affordable Care Act that prohibit insurers from increasing a person's premium rates or denying them coverage based on their health history. Tom Miller of the American Enterprise Institute told Politico that the refusal to defend key parts of the ACA shows that the Trump administration is going even further in its battle against the health care law. 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.

That argument is likely to be lost on consumers, said Robert Blendon, a polling expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - particularly in the heat of an election that will determine control of Congress.

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

If the court agrees with the Justice Department's argument to toss out part of the law that protects individuals with an existing medical condition, that could affect millions of Americans who buy insurance directly from the marketplace.

More recently, the White House and Department of Health and Human Services have been working to make it easier for consumers to buy relatively low-cost health plans that exclude some of the benefits the ACA requires.

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