DOJ calls Obamacare preexisting condition protection unconstitutional

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) delivers remarks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 21, 2018. MacArthur worked on legislation to continue pre-existing condition protections during the GOP's unsuccessful effort to repeal Obamacare previous year.

Opinion pages focus on the administration's position not to defend the constitutionality of key parts of the Affordable Care Act.

"With 130 million people who have a preexisting condition, there are a lot of people in swing districts waking up to the news today that Republicans are suing to try to let insurance companies discriminate against people with preexisting conditions", said Jesse Ferguson, former deputy director of the House Democrats' campaign arm. Now they have a new talking point, and they lost no time testing it. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of ME, previously helped tank Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the ACA citing their concerns over the possible elimination of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

"The Justice Department has a long-standing, durable, bipartisan commitment to defend acts of Congress".

The legal motion is mostly symbolic and any substantive action in the lawsuit will likely take months. HHS and Treasury administer the health law's coverage and subsidies. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll also found that health care is voters' top issue.

Some 70 percent of folks said the federal government should continue prohibiting insurers from charging more to those with pre-existing conditions, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from June 2017.

The provisions banning insurers from denying coverage or charging more based on medical condition or history can't be severed from the unconstitutional individual mandate, the brief says.

"We did that before with our repeal-and-replace bill".

Jost said it's telling that three career Justice Department lawyers refused to support the administration's position.

A backlash to GOP repeal efforts has emboldened Democrats, who think they can seize back the House, dramatically expand coverage and turn healthcare from an albatross to an advantage even in red states like Idaho, with the help of Republicans like Christy Perry. The Justice Department says only the protections for people with preexisting conditions are linked to the tax - not the rest of the law, including the expansion of Medicaid. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., to establish a single-payer health-care system, suggesting that would become the Democrats' agenda if they were to regain power. Allowing the Democratic officials to join the suit "allows us to protect the health and well-being of these Americans by defending affordable access to healthcare". Texas had asked the court to consider the provision of the ACA requiring individuals to have health insurance unconstitutional.

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On Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans' reaction to the Trump administration's decision was muted, with many lawmakers voicing skepticism that the courts would ultimately rule against a law already upheld by the Supreme Court. But it's crucial to remember that this was exactly the reaction of the same set of people in 2010, when the original argument was made against the individual mandate by libertarian law professor Randy Burnett.

The long-shot lawsuit argues that because Republicans repealed the ACA's individual mandate penalty as part of their tax overhaul, all of the remaining law is unconstitutional.

"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.

The administration filed a response [memorandum, PDF] Thursday to the complaint along with a letter [text] from Attorney General Jeff Sessions [profile] agreeing with the plaintiffs and calling for a declaratory judgment by the court to rule that the individual mandate unconstitutional.

If the administration prevails in the case, the full force of the decision would not hit until after the midterm elections on November 6. Health insurers have for years been raising premiums, complaining about uncertainty and withdrawing from the business of selling individual insurance plans, and more changes could further destabilize the market.

"You can't pull the rug out from underneath people with pre-existing conditions", O'Donnell said.

"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.

"They just have to say, 'The other party wants to take coverage away from millions of people, '" he said. In this case, California is leading a group of Democrat-led states in defending the law. "This is a sad moment".

Several other provisions of the law, however, are severable and can still be enforced, the Justice Department said. That was what five Justices of the Supreme Court said when a different combination of five Justices voted to uphold the mandate as a form of tax. "Such withdrawals are exceedingly rare - typically only when the argument is indefensible, as they are here".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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