DOJ won't defend Affordable Care Act provisions in court

DOJ won't defend Affordable Care Act provisions in court

The Trump administration's move drew strong criticism from defenders of the health care law and some legal scholars, who noted how unusual it is for the Justice Department not to defend federal law.

That would mean insurers would no longer be subject to "guaranteed issue" (a requirement that they sell policies to anybody, regardless of medical status) or "community rating" (a prohibition on charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions).

Democrats swiftly portrayed the surprise move by the Justice Department, outlined Thursday in a brief supporting a court case filed by Texas and 19 other states, as a harsh blow to Americans with fragile health and their families.

The Trump administration's startling decision to abandon one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions - protections for people with preexisting medical conditions - put Republicans on the defensive Friday and handed Democrats a potentially potent political message.

In Virginia's 2017 elections, for instance, exit polls showed health care far and away the most important issue for voters, and those who said it was their top issue picked Democrat Ralph Northam over Republican Ed Gillespie in the governor's race by a margin of 77-22 percent.

Democrats "don't have to defend how the ACA works" as they did when President Obama was in the White House, said Robert Blendon, a Harvard expert on healthcare politics.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and other House Democrats condemned the Trump administration Friday after the Justice Department announced it would not defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. "It's a cornerstone of what they do", he says. "Instead, it exacerbates our current challenges and 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", she said.

But others say the legal brief may have minimal impact next year on premiums.

The Justice Department does not join the 20 states in the lawsuit in saying that this invalidates the entire law. No one in CT - or anywhere - should have to fear that they or their loved ones will be kicked to the curb and refused care when they need it most. The best argument in favor of that position is that the Obama Department of Justice told the Supreme Court years back that these provisions were interlinked - "inseverable" in legal jargon.

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Indeed, people who pay the full cost of their individual health plans and aren't eligible for subsidies under the health law have been clamoring for relief from several years of double-digit premium increases.

About 1.5 million Californians buy coverage through the states ACA exchange, Covered California, and almost 4 million have joined Medicaid as a result of the programs expansion under the law.

If that argument prevails in the courts, it would render unconstitutional Obamacare provisions that ban insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions - arguably the most popular component of the 2010 health care law.

The state has been at the forefront in resisting many Trump Administration policies, including on health care and immigration.

Just in case you haven't thought much about the individual mandate and the Constitution in the last six years, let me provide an update and a brief refresher.

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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed it's "because otherwise individuals could wait until they become sick to purchase insurance, thus driving up premiums for everyone else". "These are people who defend programs they disagree with all the time". Until the Trump Administration (which is the target of the lawsuit) filed its views on Thursday, the case had been building without either side knowing what the government position would be. "Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019", AHIP said in a statement.

Becerra estimated that the states that back the health care law could lose half a trillion dollars in health care funding if the suit is successful. Under normal circumstances, the federal government would defend the law. The Trump administration is also trying to make it easier for healthier people to get less comprehensive health insurance, which would also take more healthy people out of the pool where most people buy their individual insurance.

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