Justice Department won't defend pre-existing conditions rule

United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas- Fort Worth

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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.

What it means: If successful, the states' lawsuit would allow insurers to charge much higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions, or deny them coverage altogether, effectively ending the ACA's promise of providing health care for all Americans.

Current best evidence on the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion suggests that the improvements to quality care and in access to care and to some degree health have occurred.

Health care is already a dominant issue in this year's elections, with voters regularly citing it as a leading determinant for how they will vote.

The provisions DOJ says should be invalidated are central to the ACA and would gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions. That ruling hinged on the reasoning that, while the government "does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance", as Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, it "does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance".

It is unusual for the Justice Department to refuse to defend existing law in court challenges.

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

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Late Thursday, the department said the health law's requirement that most Americans carry insurance will become unconstitutional next year and so will consumer protections forbidding insurers to deny coverage to sick customers or charge them more.

The states argue that now that Congress repealed the penalty for not having coverage in the tax bill a year ago, ObamaCare's individual mandate can no longer be upheld as a tax, and that it therefore should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

Twenty Republican state attorneys general filed suit on February 26, charging that Congress' changes to the law in last year's tax bill rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional.

Why the DOJ won't defend the health care law in Texas v.

"There is no doubt that Republicans are responsible for the rising cost of healthcare premiums and the high likelihood that many will no longer be able to afford basic care at all, and they will face serious blowback in the midterms", the House Democrats' campaign operation said in a statement.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a Cabinet meeting at the White House December 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

These sections of the law, along with the mandate that insurers provide comprehensive coverage, are the bedrock of Obamacare's protections for those with pre-existing conditions. "Congress has now kicked that flimsy support from beneath the law". Under another provision, the community rating provision, insurers were not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history.

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Follow his statement , Trump and several of his advisors went on the attack, citing similar talking points. CNN's Jake Tapper interjected: "So this was about North Korea?" He said Canada has to stand up for itself.

House Republicans said Friday they aren't sweating the Trump administration's refusal to defend Obamacare against a lawsuit that could nix popular health care protections, saying the case is in its infancy and they acquitted themselves by offering an alternative health plan previous year.

What do other states say?

Epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, lupus, sleep apnea, and pregnancy are all examples of pre-existing conditions.

Bailey's spokesman Corey Uhden said Friday that he wouldn't comment on the constitutionality of the ACA provisions. He recently ruled that 16 other states and the District of Columbia could join in the case formally to defend the ACA against the challenge.

But Justice Department lawyers do argue that with no penalty for not having coverage, the federal government can not make health insurers cover sick consumers or prohibit insurers from charging sick consumers higher premiums, as was routinely done before the health care law was implemented. But Martin S. Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor who was a Justice Department official in the Obama administration, called the mass withdrawal a likely sign of distress.

The Trump administration's move drew comparisons to the Obama administration's decision, in 2011, to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that barred federal recognition of same-sex unions that were lawful at the state level, and which the Supreme Court later struck down. However, this can soon change in 2019 if the Justice Department wins their lawsuit.

The Texas case will be decided first by O'Connor, a conservative appointee of President George W. Bush.

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Those with pre-existing conditions should continue being guaranteed coverage at affordable rates, said Orange County Legislator James O'Donnell, the Republican candidate for U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's 18th District seat.

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