NY braces itself against Justice Department's assertion it won't defend ACA

11 Juin, 2018, 07:36 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • The Trump administration is calling a key part of Obamacare that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional

"In particular, this decision could lead to insurers denying coverage to the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions". The Supreme Court's 2012 ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act called the individual mandate penalty a tax - and therefore legal. President Trump has said he wants a repeal and replacement of the law. In that, lawmakers chose to eliminate the tax penalty the ACA requires people to pay if they flout the insurance mandate. Insurers were not allowed to raise costs for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Republicans in Congress have tried endlessly to the repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama. "The decision by the Department of Justice to abandon critical patient protections is devastating for the millions of Americans who suffer from serious illnesses or have preexisting conditions and rely on those protections under current law to obtain life-saving healthcare", read a joint statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Congress, Trump eye new agency to invest overseas Good economic vibes fail to make GOP tax law popular MORE (Mass.), the top three Democrats on the House's health-care committees.

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

The provisions DOJ says should be invalidated are central to the ACA and would gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Health care is already a dominant issue in this year's elections, with voters regularly citing it as a leading determinant for how they will vote. And the Trump administration has not asserted that the Medicaid expansion made possible by the health care law should be rolled back.

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states who brought the suit.

House Republicans said Friday they aren't sweating the Trump administration's refusal to defend Obamacare against a lawsuit that could nix popular health care protections, saying the case is in its infancy and they acquitted themselves by offering an alternative health plan a year ago.

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"At the very least it adds uncertainty at exactly the moment when plans are trying to set rates for next year", said Ceci Connolly, the chief executive of the Alliance of Community Health Plans.

The 20 states that brought the lawsuit include Texas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Gov. Paul LePage for the State of ME and Gov. Phil Bryant for Mississippi. "At the worst it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions".

Bailey's spokesman Corey Uhden said Friday that he wouldn't comment on the constitutionality of the ACA provisions.

Until Thursday's filing, the Trump administration had not indicated its position on either this latest lawsuit or the Republican states' effort to block the law while the case moved along. "This is a sad moment".

But Justice Department lawyers do argue that with no penalty for not having coverage, the federal government can not make health insurers cover sick consumers or prohibit insurers from charging sick consumers higher premiums, as was routinely done before the health care law was implemented.

"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. United States is an unprecedented dereliction of duty by the Department of Justice (DOJ). "Such withdrawals are exceedingly rare - typically only when the argument is indefensible, as they are here".

"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", the statement said. Conservatives at the time accused the Justice Department of politicization. The lawsuit will be heard by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas.

The lawsuit could easily go all the way to the Supreme Court before there is a resolution, which could take years.

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