U.S. Justice's ACA decision is latest of many shifts

U.S. Justice's ACA decision is latest of many shifts

The Trump administration declared that it no longer will defend the Affordable Care Act from a challenge filed by 20 states because it agrees that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional and that key parts of the act - including the provisions protecting those with pre-existing conditions - are invalid.

One Utah health advocacy group warned Friday that the move could have negative financial consequences for hundreds of thousands of Utahns with pre-existing health conditions.

"This is not a new experience for us under this new Trump era of having to defend Californians", Becerra said.

"The DOJ has now acknowledged the problems with the statute".

So why then, as Gizmodo reports, is Trump's Department of Justice now arguing in court that the ACA's pre-existing condition provisions are unconstitutional?

A coalition of 20 USA states sued the federal government in February, claiming the law was no longer constitutional after last year's repeal of the penalty that individuals had to pay for not having insurance.

Texas and other states that oppose the ACA have responded by filing a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. 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.

Those with pre-existing conditions should continue being guaranteed coverage at affordable rates, said Orange County Legislator James O'Donnell, the Republican candidate for U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's 18th District seat. That would include such popular items as the guarantee that young people can stay on their family's health insurance plans until age 26, subsidies to help poorer people to afford health insurance, the existing state-level health insurance marketplaces ("exchanges"), the expansion of the Medicaid health insurance program for poor people, and a mandate that larger employers provided minimum levels of health insurance coverage for their workers.

In May, the court allowed more than a dozen state attorneys general, all Democrats, to "intervene" in the case and defend the law.

The case in Texas, which has attracted relatively little notice until now, emerges from the massive tax bill Congress passed late a year ago. "That change eliminated the basis for the court's decision to uphold the ACA's constitutionality".

The Justice Department thus claims that the individual mandate is unconstitutional as of January 1.




But Justice Department lawyers do argue that with no penalty for not having coverage, the federal government can not make health insurers cover sick consumers or prohibit insurers from charging sick consumers higher premiums, as was routinely done before the health care law was implemented.

The administration said it agrees with Texas that the so-called individual mandate will be unconstitutional without the fine.

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

Three provisions of the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional and therefore not defensible in court, the Justice Department said.

In a June 2017 poll, Kaiser found that protection for people with pre-existing conditions was an issue with bipartisan support.

"There is no doubt that Republicans are responsible for the rising cost of healthcare premiums and the high likelihood that many will no longer be able to afford basic care at all, and they will face serious blowback in the midterms", the House Democrats' campaign operation said in a statement.

"The more uncertainty there is, the more the actuaries are going to be plugging into their projections for premium rates", says Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute. "The pre-existing condition protections are extremely popular on both sides of the aisle".

America's Health Insurance Plans said Friday that it plans to file a brief opposing the plaintiffs' request for emergency relief that would provides detail about the harm that would come to millions of Americans should their request to invalidate the ACA is granted either in whole or in part. "It's a cornerstone of what they do", he says.

Here's their argument, and what they want. "But to have one without the other doesn't make any sense".

"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", the statement said.

Legal specialists also point out that the Trump administration's failure to defend the federal health law could have long-lasting implications for the rule of law in the nation.

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