Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

DOJ Won't Defend Obamacare in Lawsuit Brought by 20 States

DOJ Won't Defend Obamacare in Lawsuit Brought by 20 States

"The Justice Department's refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act in federal court is a stunning attack on the rule of law, the stability of our health care system, and Americans" access to affordable health care", said Reps.

The states argue that now that Congress repealed the penalty for not having coverage in the tax bill previous year, ObamaCare's individual mandate can no longer be upheld as a tax, and that it therefore should be invalidated.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a three-page letter to House and Senate leaders for both parties, saying the Justice Department wouldn't defend the individual mandate or the provisions, from a lawsuit filed by Texas and 19 other states.

The DOJ believes pre-existing conditions and the individual mandate must go hand-in-hand, claiming that part of the law is now unconstitutional.

The Trump administration, however, is seeking to gut two core provisions that guarantee that these folks can get health insurance and that they won't have to pay more for it.

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Removing consumer friendly provisions like guaranteed issue, whereby health insurers can not deny coverage to applicants or charge more based on health status, will result in renewed uncertainty in the market as well as push up rates for older and sicker patients, AHIP added.

But it said the rest of the law, including Medicaid expansion, can remain in place.

"Initial filings for 2019 plans have shown that, while rates are higher due to the zeroing out of the individual mandate penalty, the market is more steady for most consumers than in previous years, with insurance providers stepping in to serve more consumers in more states", says Grow.

California and 15 other states also filed a brief Thursday to intervene and defend the ACA and its consumer protections. "That change eliminated the basis for the court's decision to uphold the ACA's constitutionality".

"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost.

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The state has been at the forefront in resisting many Trump Administration policies, including on health care and immigration. In addition, the government doesn't go so far as Texas and its fellow plaintiffs in arguing that the Affordable Care Act and the regulations issued under it are now invalid. It also said that provisions shielding people with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums and limiting how much insurers can charge older Americans should fall as well.

Many advocates spoke out against the Trump administration's stance on the law's consumer protections. With the repeal of the mandate penalty, the mandate became a simple requirement to buy a service-not a tax-and is therefore not constitutional.

Before the Affordable Care Act marketplace launched in 2014, people with chronic diseases who tried to buy their own insurance were routinely denied coverage based on their medical history.

"The decision by the Department of Justice to abandon critical patient protections is devastating for the millions of Americans who suffer from serious illnesses or have preexisting conditions and rely on those protections under current law to obtain life-saving health care", wrote a coalition of patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

While the case has to play out from here, the administration's striking position raises the possibility that major parts of the law could be struck down - a year after the Republican Congress failed at attempts to repeal core provisions.

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