Trump administration: Heart of health law unconstitutional

Trump administration: Heart of health law unconstitutional

The Trump administration won't defend central provisions of the Affordable Care Act, saying in a legal filing Thursday night that key parts of the Affordable Care Act should be invalidated and that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

If a federal judge in Texas agrees with the Department of Justice's (DOJ) move to not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans could lose their healthcare coverage or face higher premiums for having preexisting conditions, a legal professor wrote Friday in a blog post for The Commonwealth Fund.

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.

Mr. MacArthur said it would be hard for Congress to revisit the brutal health care fight, although it's unclear if the lawsuit will get "any legs under it".

Republicans in Congress have tried endlessly to the repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Allowing the Democratic officials to join the suit "allows us to protect the health and well-being of these Americans by defending affordable access to health care".

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.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate - requiring Americans to purchase insurance and exacting a yearly financial penalty from those who don't - was not a constitutional use of the Commerce Clause, but that it was a lawful use of Congress' authority to require taxes. "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".

The Justice Department did not go that far. The administration instead called on federal courts to scuttle the health law's protection for people with preexisting medical conditions and its requirement that people buy health coverage. The states argue that after Congress eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate past year, effective in 2019, it destabilized other sections of the law.

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

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged President Donald Trump to reverse the decision.

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The overall ACA and the state-run marketplaces where subsidized health insurance is sold have continued to operate in the six years since the Supreme Court had upheld the individual-insurance mandate, but have often had difficulty holding down insurance premiums and have had a steady erosion of the number of insurance companies willing to continue to sell policies on those exchanges, even with subsidies that help them offset the cost of keeping premiums down.

"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections", the group said.

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.

"For three such respected DOJ attorneys to do so simultaneously - just hours before a major filing, and without replacement by any other career lawyers other than a rookie - is simply flabbergasting".

"At the very least it adds uncertainty at exactly the moment when plans are trying to set rates for next year", said Ceci Connolly, the chief executive of the Alliance of Community Health Plans. "It's being mugged", King said in a twitter statement on Friday.

Epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, lupus, sleep apnea, and pregnancy are all examples of pre-existing conditions. In the new suit, California is leading a group of Democrat-led states in defending the law.

But Marty Lederman, who worked in the Obama Justice Department and now teaches at Georgetown Law School, says the move was unprecedented.

The states' challenge to the overall ACA has been pending since February in the Fort Worth court of U.S. District Judge Reed C. O'Connor.

In parting company with the challenging states on their demand that all of the ACA be nullified, the Administration document said it was hypothetical speculation whether the entire program would collapse without the individual mandate and the related insurance coverage requirements. Ultimately, the issue could be decided by the Supreme Court.

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