Trump Administration Won't Defend ACA

11 June, 2018, 16:32 | Author: Angelica Greene
  • Trump Administration Won't Defend ACA

The Justice Department told a federal court in Texas that it wouldn't defend the 2010 Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that argues its "individual mandate" to hold insurance is no longer valid, since Congress zeroed out its penalties in the GOP tax bill. Lance, who faces a tough reelection race, distanced himself from his party's health-care legislation and the tax law that repealed the individual mandate.

Ironically, the existence of that financial penalty in the law was what had saved the individual insurance mandate from being struck down by the Supreme Court six years ago. It helped expand their risk pools while the law forced them to guarantee coverage to any customer.

Currently, proposed rate increases range from 7 to 36 percent higher than 2018 but only up 2 percent on Silver plans for people who get tax credits to subsidize their premiums, according to a new premium tracker launched this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In a legal filing Thursday night, the Department of Justice said that key parts of Obamacare should be invalidated and that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

"Tonight, as the president and his administration launch their most risky sabotage effort yet, we are seeing just how far Republicans are willing to go in their quest to undermine the American health care system", said Brad Woodhouse, campaign director of Protect Our Care, an advocacy group staffed with many Obama administration alums. Prior to the ACA, insurers often rejected applicants who were ill or had pre-existing conditions, or only offered them limited coverage. Instead, Justice officials argue in their brief that the ACA's insurance requirement will not become unconstitutional until January, so that "the injury imposed by the individual mandate is not sufficiently imminent" and that the judge could issue a final ruling in the case before then.

A coalition of 20 U.S. 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.

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But it's not clear exactly how many Americans have pre-existing conditions and could be affected. "At the worst it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions". Before the ACA passed, insurers commonly refused coverage for people with cancer, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis and even less serious conditions. The Kaiser Family Foundation puts the number at about a quarter of the country's under-65 population. Of course, not all of them buy coverage on their own.

In short: The federal government is declining to defend federal law.

"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", said America's Health Insurance Plans. What about next year?

Repealing Obamacare has been a rallying cry for Republican candidates for the past eight years. So the pre-existing condition protections are likely to stay in place during that period.

"The Trump administration once again is allowing premiums to go up and middle class Americans to pay more", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a tweet.

ROVNER: Well, one of the reasons it's happening - say the insurers, who are filing their rates now for next year - is because they took away this penalty for people who don't have insurance.

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

"Because the mandate is unconstitutional, those. elements must fail as well", he said. Most famously, in 2012, a narrow majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts turned back a challenge that was also filed by Republican attorneys general along with the National Federation of Independent Business.

In 2015, the court ruled that Congress did not intend to provide financial aid exclusively for premiums to individuals in states that operated their own insurance exchanges. The states argue that, because the TCJA has eliminated the individual mandate penalty, the ACA individual mandate is no longer a tax law.

"It's just one more part of the story of trying to politicize the Justice Department", said Jost, a supporter of the health law.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage signed his name onto the 20-state lawsuit as one of the plaintiffs in the case that, if successful, would gut pre-existing condition protections enshrined in the Affordable Care Act.

Other legal observers point out that's not how the lawmaking process works.

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"Withdrawing from a case en masse like this, right before the brief is filed, is unheard of", noted Nicholas Bagley, a former Justice Department lawyer who now teaches at the University of Michigan Law School.

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