Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Justice Department won't defend Affordable Care Act provisions in court

Justice Department won't defend Affordable Care Act provisions in court

The Trump administration says in a new court filing that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that people have health insurance and provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions.

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".

While U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions argues that no reasonable arguments exist to defend Obamacare, California led a coalition of 15 states and D.C.to fight Texas's suit, saying the individual mandate has twice survived Supreme Court review and attempts by Congress to repeal the law, thus legitimizing it. Stripping away Obamacare would create a health crisis by putting at risk some $500 billion in health-care funding, according to a statement issued by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

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 past year.

The DOJ believes pre-existing conditions and the individual mandate must go hand-in-hand, claiming that part of the law is now unconstitutional.

The major difference is that the justice department, under Donald Trump, has largely switched sides.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

Americans are very divided over the Affordable Care Act, but one piece that many support is the law's protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

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". Indeed, sign-up season for 2018 under the Trump administration resulted in only a slight enrollment drop-off from Obama's previous year.

Insurers are now finalizing their premium requests for 2019, and Jost said the Justice Department filing may prompt jittery carriers to seek higher rates.

The mandate in Obamacare was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

Like this: