Justice Department says heart of health law unconstitutional

The Trump administration is calling a key part of Obamacare that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional

The Trump Administration Is Using a New Tactic to Dismantle Obamacare. What You Need to Know About It

"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 Senate's top Democrats fired off a letter to President Trump on Friday to denounce the decision and urged Trump's Justice Department to reverse course.

But the move also upends a longstanding legal and democratic norm that the executive branch will uphold existing laws.

"Congress is always free to amend its statutes, even to omit what it previously thought was essential", writes Nick Bagley, a law professor at the University of MI, in a Thursday evening blog post. 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.

The state has been at the forefront in resisting many Trump Administration policies, including on health care and immigration.

Bagley said the brief reveals the "depth of institutional decay at the Department of Justice", and he expressed profound concern about the precedent it sets. The companies were already nervous because of Congress's decision a year ago to eliminate the penalty for going without health coverage. The administration's legal brief, filed Thursday in federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas, takes aim at those links.

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For example, the Obama administration decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in 2011. In the tax law, Congress repealed the penalty for people who fail to have health insurance starting in 2019.

Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the lawsuit said that without the individual mandate, Obamacare in its entirety was unlawful. The DOJ in fact sided in large part with the states, arguing that the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be invalidated.

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.

Pelosi and other supporters of the ACA were quick to condemn the move.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, predicted that the resurrection of the issue would mobilize voters, saying, "There's nothing quite like the administration taking an action in court to illustrate the simple fact that they are still coming after your health care". If the court ends up siding with the Trump administration and the Republican states that brought the suit, the consequences would be significant, Perlman said.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a Cabinet meeting at the White House December 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. But the lawsuit argues that since the mandate can no longer raise any revenue, the mandate itself is now unconstitutional - and so is the entire ACA.

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The Texas-led lawsuit filed earlier this year claims that Congress' decision to eliminate the individual mandate penalty, which goes into effect in 2019, should render the entire health care law invalid. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the brief is an attempt to use the courts to do what Congress was unwilling to do: repeal major consumer protections of the ACA.

More than one in four adults younger than 65 have pre-existing medical conditions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"When insurance companies face uncertainty, they increase premiums", Levitt tweeted Thursday night.

These consumer protections proved enormously popular with Americans and are among the reasons why efforts to repeal Obamacare in Congress failed past year.

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

The president last fall ended "cost-sharing reduction payments" to insurers that offset discounts that the law promises to lower-income customers in the out-of-pocket costs for ACA health plans. Experts believe that could entice healthier people to exit the marketplace in favor of less-expensive, short-term plans, leaving the marketplace with a sicker population that could drive insurance costs higher.

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Shortly before the government's court filing, three career lawyers at the Justice Department withdrew from the case and were replaced by two political appointees, according to court filings. They routinely defend policies they dislike and make arguments they personally disagree with.

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