Could Trump admin. help take ObamaCare down?
- Daisy Evans
A coalition of 20 states led by attorneys from Texas and Wisconsin sued the government in February for the repeal of the Obamacare provisions. It requires insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions - charge them the same rates as everybody else?
Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, slammed the Trump administration on Friday for not defending the ACA in court.
"The Justice Department has a long-standing, durable, bipartisan commitment to defend acts of Congress".
"We can't go back to the times when pregnant women, folks with a disability and people with cancer were denied the care they needed", Maloney said in an email. We also agree that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) provisions affecting Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D should remain law.
If the judge buys the administration's argument, and if his ruling is upheld on appeal, 52 million Americans with preexisting conditions could face denial of coverage or higher premiums. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll also found that health care is voters' top issue. "I didn't vote for the tax bill".
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 previous year.
"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections" that help guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, a written statement from the group said.
While the ACA has been the target of a sharply divided and partisan debate for almost a decade, pre-existing protections are one of the most popular actions Congress has taken in modern times. Which will make it more likely that the Democrats will take back the House and/or the Senate.
But polls show support for the law increasing as it becomes more imperiled, and the result has been a political sea change.
Linda Muller, president and CEO of Cornerstone Healthcare, the mid-Hudson's largest low-income health provider, said it would be disastrous if "an entire class of individuals with pre-existing conditions are targeted" by a federal decision not to support them.
But that was not the talking point of the party's re-election arm.
Republicans have tried to blunt this tactic with a revival of what launched them into power in 2010: By arguing Democrats are hellbent on taking over all aspects of the health care system.
"The lawsuit initiated by Texas is risky and reckless and would destroy the ACA as we know it".
The filing declares unconstitutional the so-called individual mandate-which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a "tax" if they don't-and calls for several elements of ACA to be invalidated. Sessions said in a letter to Congress on June 7, that President Donald Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.
"The individual mandate thus still exists, but it will no longer be fairly possible to describe it as a tax because it will no longer generate any revenue", the Justice Department said in its brief on Thursday.
In a brief filed Thursday in federal district court in Texas, the department argues that the individual mandate, as well as the community rating and guaranteed issue provisions of the law, are all unconstitutional and need not be defended in a case now pending before the court.
If the administration prevails in the case, the full force of the decision would not hit until after the midterm elections on November 6. Even when insurers offered policies to those with health problems, they often excluded those illnesses.
"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. Insurers were not allowed to raise costs for people with pre-existing medical conditions. "That's how far out the administration's position is".
The Trump administration's move fueled accusations that it was politicizing the Justice Department, which is supposed to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes in court - even if the administration in power does not like them - if reasonable arguments can be made.
Casey accused the administration and congressional Republicans of wanting "to use the courts to enact the rest of their health care scheme - starting by allowing people to be denied coverage due to a pre-existing conditions and charging older Americans more for their health care". "The brief filed by the Trump Administration yesterday represents a shocking break from precedent and relies on legally dubious, partisan claims to argue against the constitutionality of the current law". President Trump has said he wants a repeal and replacement of the law.
"Withdrawing from a case en masse like this, right before the brief is filed, is unheard of", noted Nicholas Bagley, a former Justice Department lawyer who now teaches at the University of Michigan Law School.
The Justice Department took a different tack in a court filing on Thursday.
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