Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Trump admin: We won't defend Obamacare

The Trump administration is calling a key part of Obamacare that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional The Trump Administration Is Using a New Tactic to Dismantle Obamacare. What You Need to Know About It
Steve Townsend | 11 June, 2018, 14:49

The Trump administration delivered an early midterms present to Democrats Thursday night when the Justice Department made a decision to side with 20 GOP states in a lawsuit seeking to gut the core protections of the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions. It also said shielding people with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charging higher premiums and limiting how much insurers can charge older Americans should fall as well.

The Justice Department filed its brief Thursday in challenge to the 2010 health-care law filed by Texas and 19 other states, report Politico, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Axios and the Washington Post. A CBS News poll of 64 competitive House districts also found that health care is the top issue for voters, ahead of jobs and wages as well as immigration.

The Justice Department lawyers representing Trump's U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Trump's Internal Revenue Services have asked the court to narrow the scope of the suit, and then to grant a ruling in favor of Texas and its allies on the narrower version of the suit.

The issue became a flash point that helped derail Republican efforts to repeal the law a year ago, with opponents of the party's health bills speaking loudly against weakening protections for the sick and vulnerable.

Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the lawsuit said that without the individual mandate, Obamacare in its entirety was unlawful.

The Trump administration, however, is seeking to gut two core provisions that guarantee that these folks can get health insurance and that they won't have to pay more for it. Collins, who voted against the Republican bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the Senate previous year, also expressed concern about the administration's new push to undo it.

"Should this case be successful, people with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and any serious or chronic condition are likely to be denied coverage due to their pre-existing conditions or charged such high premiums because of their health status that they will be unable to afford any coverage that may be offered".

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". Already, Democratic candidates in the midterm elections had been playing up their party's role in blocking last year's repeal efforts and their recent success in pushing for the expansion of Medicaid in two more states. With President Trump's tax reform package in December 2017 removing the individual mandate requirement as a tax penalty, the last remaining reasoning to having a mandate fell apart, the suit argues. 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.

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The news rallied defenders of the law into action and raised questions among legal scholars about the likelihood it would succeed.

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

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sessions acknowledged that the executive branch typically defends existing federal law, but he concluded that this is a "rare case where the proper course is to forgo" defense of the individual mandate.

Many health care experts disagree with that position. And that's the provision they have about preexisting conditions.

Equally notable, three career prosecutors in the department withdrew from the case just before the administration announced the decision not to defend the health care law. "But even if the Justice Department's arguments fail, as they should, the administration's violation of its duty to faithfully execute our nation's laws will still raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy, and weaken our democracy for years to come".

Republicans on Capitol Hill had no advance warning that the administration was going to assert that protections for people with preexisting conditions is unconstitutional - a position that defies President Donald Trump's promises to maintain those protections.

Recent polling indicates that this could be a political victor for Democrats attempting to recapture at least one chamber of Congress.

Ironically, the existence of that financial penalty in the law was what had saved the individual insurance mandate from being struck down by the Supreme Court six years ago. Judge Reed O'Connor was named to the court by President George W. Bush and has ruled against other aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

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