Justice Department takes aim at heart of health law

Lynette PayneJun 12, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended this move in a letter, claiming that this position is simply a matter of "statutory interpretation", regarding those positions, and because he is not saying that Obamacare as a whole is unconstitutional, it "therefore does not implicate the Department's general practice of defending the constitutionality of federal law".

Medicaid is considered to be the largest source of health coverage for the USA.

This most recent instance comes from a challenge, by Texas and 19 other states, to the constitutionality of the ACA because of changes made in the tax cut bill passed by Congress and signed by Trump at the end of 2017.

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 previous year.

While Justice Department attorneys often advocate for laws they may personally disagree with, those three civil servants instead made a decision to exit from the case, which Bagley described as "almost unheard of".

Andy Kim, a former Obama administration staffer, is making coverage of pre-existing conditions and access to affordable health care a key part of his campaign against Rep. Tom MacArthur in Central New Jersey, the author of the Obamacare repeal bill that passed the House but failed in the Senate a year ago.

"The American public widely supports retaining protections for pre-existing conditions".

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a trade group for health insurers, today put out a statement arguing that eliminating the current underwriting rules for 2019 would lead to major disruption in the individual major medical market.

Though the lawsuit has a long path before it, Democrats and their allies are seizing on the administration's stance as a ready-made attack line as they try to retake the House in November.

Bagley said the brief reveals the "depth of institutional decay at the Department of Justice", and he expressed profound concern about the precedent it sets.

A coalition of 20 states led by attorneys from Texas and Wisconsin sued the government in February for the repeal of the Obamacare provisions.

The states also called for the entire law and all of its mandates to be eliminated, while the Justice Department argued some portions of the law could remain in place.

Health care ranked as the top issue for voters in a a national NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday, and among those for whom it was the most important factor in their vote, a striking 67 percent prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress.

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

"I don't understand why the White House would do this, and no one is communicating how they want people to navigate this issue", said one Republican strategist working on Senate races, who demanded anonymity to speak freely.

Legal specialists also point out that the Trump administration's failure to defend the federal health law could have long-lasting implications for the rule of law in the nation.

On Thursday, the Trump administration further roiled the debate by stating in court that it would not defend one of the law's most popular provisions, which forbids insurance companies from denying coverage to customers with preexisting conditions or charging them more.

"It's highly unlikely NY would take away consumer protections it has put in place", said a spokeswoman for the state Health Plan Association. But the uncertainty it creates in the meantime could rattle the law's insurance marketplaces just as insurers are starting to file rate requests for next year.

Jost said it's telling that three career Justice Department lawyers refused to support the administration's position. Sessions said in a letter to Congress on June 7, that President Donald Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy. Health insurers have for years been raising premiums, complaining about uncertainty and withdrawing from the business of selling individual insurance plans, and more changes could further destabilize the market. "These are people who defend programs they disagree with all the time".

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. Whatever the lower courts decide, the case seems destined to reach the Supreme Court.

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