Medicine

Trump's Team Asks Court to Let ACA Underwriting Rules Die in 2019

Trump's Team Asks Court to Let ACA Underwriting Rules Die in 2019

For the first time, the Trump Administration moved on Thursday to challenge the constitutionality of the key section of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") that required most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a financial penalty as part of their taxes.

The provisions banning insurers from denying coverage or charging more based on medical condition or history can't be severed from the unconstitutional individual mandate, the brief says.

Democrats don't mind this comparison, in part because polls have shown that not only is health care a top issue for many voters, but it's an issue that helps Democrats.

As the debate over the Trump administration's decision raged, the National Republican Campaign Committee largely ignored the issue, instead noting that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said a range of health care options are "on the table" if Democrats take back the House in November.

The issue became a flash point that helped derail Republican efforts to repeal the law past year, with opponents of the party's health bills speaking loudly against weakening protections for the sick and vulnerable. "I think what they're doing is wrong, I think their attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act have been wrong, but look, they're the majority, they set the schedule". "The ACA is the law of the land and DOJ should defend it".

Becerra is leading an effort by Democratic attorney generals from others states and the District of Columbia to defend the ACA against that lawsuit. In the tax law, Congress repealed the penalty for people who fail to have health insurance starting in 2019.

Stanford said removing the restrictions on pre-existing conditions would take Americans back when "insurance companies could pore through your medical records and anything you mentioned to your doctor was fair game". Slavitt and others criticized the move as an unprecedented decision by the Justice Department to not defend the rule of law.

Expansions to Medicaid that occurred in individual states prior to the Affordable Care Act were excluded from the review analysis.

The Democrats argued that DOJ's refusal to defend the controversial health care law could eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and "have profound consequences for patients, the health care system and the American economy".

FILE - Stacy Stanford attends a rally to Support Healthy Utah at the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

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"In refusing to follow bipartisan tradition and defend the ACA in the US federal court system, the Trump administration is nakedly admitting that it wants to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, breaking a promise that the president has made time and again", said Topher Spiro, vice president of health policy at the Center for American Progress.

According to health-policy experts, a court ruling in favor of the suing GOP states and the administration would trigger what one called "immediate chaos" in the law's insurance marketplaces created under the law.

The Justice Department did not go that far.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who voted against the Republican repeal bills in the Senate previous year, also expressed concern about the administration's new push, saying it "creates further uncertainty that could ultimately result in higher costs for millions of Americans and undermine essential protections for people with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes".

Moreover, if the Trump administration did not want to defend the ACA expressly, it could simply have filed a jurisdictional motion, asserting that the states are not injured by the lack of an individual mandate penalty and that the litigation is not yet timely, as the tax is still in effect. But since President Trump was elected, he has done what he can to undermine it.

The main trade association for health insurers came out strongly against the administration's position.

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. "With no remaining legitimate basis for the law, it is time that Americans are finally free from the stranglehold of Obamacare, once and for all".

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law.

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.

Because the lawsuit could easily go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a process that could take years, the protections for people with preexisting conditions are likely to stay in place during that period.


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