Trump admin: We won't defend Obamacare

Leslie Hanson
June 10, 2018

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court, the Justice Department said the ACA's individual mandate - which required most Americans to carry health insurance - can no longer be interpreted as a tax "because it will raise no revenue as Congress has eliminated the monetary penalty".

Mark Showalter, chairman of the Department of Economics at BYU, contended that although protections for people with pre-existing conditions is a well-liked part of the law and the individual mandate penalty was considered deeply unpopular, the provisions are two sides of the same coin.

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the popular consumer protections can not be separated from the unpopular insurance mandate, which Congress has repealed, effective next year.

The decision by the department (DoJ) was announced in a filing in a federal court in Texas, part of a lawsuit brought by Texas and other Republican-led states to strike down the entire law.

Rather, in the brief, the Justice Department says that only the section of the law dealing with the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

"This is yet another malicious Republican attack that will undermine the stability of our healthcare system, and could once again mean that you or a loved one are denied healthcare because of a pre-existing condition", said Meredith Kelly, the communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

The state has been at the forefront in resisting many Trump Administration policies, including on health care and immigration.

In short: The federal government is declining to defend federal law.


That's not so surprising considering more than 52 million non-elderly Americans have health conditions that could have rendered them uninsurable prior to Obamacare, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found.

Before the Affordable Care Act marketplace launched in 2014, people with chronic diseases who tried to buy their own insurance were routinely denied coverage based on their medical history. States such as California will take up the law's defense, and the legal battle will continue.

The administration called on the court to declare the provisions that guarantee coverage to be invalid beginning on January 1, 2019, when the mandate penalty goes away.

In an unusual filing just before 6 p.m. Thursday, when the brief was due, the three career Justice attorneys involved in the case - Joel McElvain, Eric Beckenhauer and Rebecca Kopplin - withdrew.

About 1.5 million Californians buy coverage through the state's ACA exchange, Covered California, and almost 4 million have joined Medicaid as a result of the program's expansion under the law.

The administration last fall ended a key payment to insurers that helped lower the cost of insurance for low-income Americans who purchased marketplace insurance.

While Justice Department attorneys often advocate for laws they may personally disagree with, those three civil servants instead chose to exit from the case, which Bagley described as "almost unheard of". "Such withdrawals are exceedingly rare - typically only when the argument is indefensible, as they are here". Yet they could not sign it. 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.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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