Trump admin: We won't defend Obamacare

  • Trump admin: We won't defend Obamacare

Trump admin: We won't defend Obamacare

The Trump administration has elected not to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act against a sweeping legal challenge filed by a group of conservative states, marking an unusual departure from the Justice Department's traditional responsibility to safeguard federal law.

The Justice Department rarely declines to argue in favor of existing law in court and this decision will put pressure on the Affordable Care Act, the formal name for former President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement. The Justice Department, in backing the state's argument, is seeking to strike down two of Obamacare's most popular provisions: the rule that insurance companies can't turn someone away or charge them more based on a pre-existing condition, and the rule that limits how much insurers can charge older patients for their premiums.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 16 million Americans suffer from depression each year.

She cited a report from health care think tank Kaiser Family Foundation that estimates more than 52 million Americans have pre-existing health problems that would "likely leave them uninsurable" if it weren't for the Affordable Care Act's regulations.

Since he took office in January 2017, Becerra has emerged as a top opponent of the Trump administration, filing more than 30 lawsuits on health care and other issues.

Although the challengers had suggested that "a chain reaction of failed policymaking" would occur once the mandate was invalidated, the government lawyers said that the challengers could not show that striking down the mandate and the closely-tied coverage clauses "means that the ACA necessarily ceases to implement any coherent federal policy". And because a scant majority of the Supreme Court had said it was Congress's taxing powers that saved the ACA from being unconstitutional, that protection was no longer there.

The administration does not go as far as the Texas attorney general and his counterparts.

Weighing in on a Texas challenge to the health law, the Justice Department argued that legally and practically the popular consumer protections can not be separated from the unpopular insurance mandate, which Congress has repealed, effective next year.

That penalty, Texas and the other conservative states argue, is so central to the law that without it, the rest can not stand.

"There is no doubt that Republicans are responsible for the rising cost of healthcare premiums and the high likelihood that many will no longer be able to afford basic care at all, and they will face serious blowback in the midterms", the House Democrats' campaign operation said in a statement.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged President Donald Trump to reverse the decision.

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 previous year.

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 past year.

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

Diabetes, pregnancy and arthritis are all considered a pre-existing condition. In this case, California is leading a group of Democrat-led states in defending the law.

Just hours before the Justice Department officially withdrew from the case, three of the staff attorneys who had been working on it withdrew.

Dismantling the ACA could "push people into positions where they have to make decisions on whether they're going to get treatment or whether they're going to eat", said Charlie Quinn, CEO of RECAP, an Orange County nonprofit that provides social services. In May, the court allowed them to "intervene" in the case.

In parting company with the challenging states on their demand that all of the ACA be nullified, the Administration document said it was hypothetical speculation whether the entire program would collapse without the individual mandate and the related insurance coverage requirements.

Justice Department tells court it won't defend...

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.

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.