DOJ Argues Parts Of Obamacare Are Unconstitutional After Mandate Repeal
10 June, 2018, 19:09
At issue is a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general on February 26, which charged that Congress' changes to the law in last year's tax bill rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional.
In a brief filed in a federal court in Texas, the department said a tax law signed a year ago by President Donald Trump that eliminated penalties for not having health insurance rendered the so-called individual mandate under Obamacare unconstitutional.
Protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions are connected with the individual mandate, according to the Justice Department, meaning that they must also be struck down.
Some critics of the administration's decision said California should go forward with enacting its own mandate for individual coverage, as a few other states have done.
"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost.
Texas and other GOP-led states have filed suit to strike down the entire law, with Congress recently repealing a provision that subjected those who failed to obtain health insurance to a fine, according to reports.
As a result, the Texas lawsuit contends, "the country is left with an individual mandate to buy health insurance that lacks any constitutional basis".
"It would be essentially a return to what the individual market looked like before the ACA, where insurers would require applicants to fill out long questionnaires about their medical histories, and make decisions based on people's health and how much to charge", said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress have sought to dismantle Obamacare, which sought to expand insurance coverage to more Americans.
Because the lawsuit could easily go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a process that could take years, the protections for people with preexisting conditions are likely to stay in place during that period.
"Democrats will not allow Republicans to get away with quietly trying to strip away pre-existing conditions protections for millions of Americans through a legal backdoor", said Rep.
The takeaway for consumers: This shouldn't deter people from seeking health insurance.
If the court agrees with the Justice Department's argument to toss out part of the law that protects individuals with an existing medical condition, that could affect millions of Americans who buy insurance directly from the marketplace.
America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, bemoaned the Justice Department's stance, saying it could upset a market that is becoming "more steady" for most consumers.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a Thursday letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, said while the administration has traditionally defended the constitutionality of such provisions, he has decided "this is a rare care where the proper course is to forgo defense". Andy Slavitt, who led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama, called the action "the biggest health care news of the year" on Twitter. 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.
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