California's Attorney General Vows National Fight To Defend The ACA
Jun 12 2018
Now, the Justice Department's stance in a federal-court case in Texas will allow Democrats to argue that Republicans want to deny affordable health coverage to some of the people who need it most.
The Texas-led lawsuitfiled 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.
Democrats, who were already favored going into this November's election both on the generic ballot and on health care in particular, pounced on the news of the lawsuit, predicting "serious blowback in the midterms" for Republicans.
"I have always favored coverage for preexisting conditions and will continue to do so", Lance said, adding he would urge the administration to back off their new legal stance.
The Trump administration has elected not to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act against a sweeping legal challenge filed by a group of conservative states, marking an unusual departure from the Justice Department's traditional responsibility to safeguard federal law.
Though Republicans loathe the 2010 law, many of them have pushed for market-oriented solutions that allow sicker Americans to obtain insurance without facing sky-high prices. "It is now abundantly clear that in passing a massive tax giveaway to the wealthy, Republicans also believe they signed into law permission for insurance companies to once again come after basic protections for the middle class".
As many as 130 million adults under age 65 in the USA have pre-existing conditions that could result in their not being able to get insurance coverage in the private market, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
NY was one of 17 states to intervene in the case in May in defense of the ACA.
The states are now arguing that once Congress repealed the tax penalty for the individual mandate in the 2017 law, no more constitutional authority exists for Congress to keep the individual mandate in place.
President Donald Trump's legal team has made a move that could kill a key part of the Affordable Care Act, disrupt the individual major medical market in 2019, and leave most of the ACA intact.
"Justice Department attorneys don't withdraw from cases simply because the government is making an argument the lawyers think the courts should or would reject", he said.
Congress past year struck down only the tax penalty enforcing the individual-insurance mandate, and left the rest of the law intact.
Before the Trump administration'ss response on Thursday, Democratic Attorneys General filed [JURIST Report] a motion to intervene [text, PDF] in April to defend the ACA anticipating the Trump administration's intention to not uphold the legislation. These include a "ban on insurers denying coverage and charging higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions". MacArthur worked on legislation to continue pre-existing condition protections during the GOP's unsuccessful effort to repeal Obamacare a year ago. There are about 21 million people who do so, buying either through insurance brokers or from a state or federal Affordable Care Act marketplace. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan explaining that this is a "rare case" that warrants deviating from the Justice Department's "longstanding tradition of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes".
And it didn't take long for Democrats to respond to the Trump administration's new posture.
"You've got very sympathetic populations that are affected by those conditions so to somehow adversely affect them is not a politically wise move", said Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican, signaling opposition to the administration's decision. Although the challengers had suggested that "a chain reaction of failed policymaking" would occur once the mandate was invalidated, the government lawyers said that the challengers could not show that striking down the mandate and the closely-tied coverage clauses "means that the ACA necessarily ceases to implement any coherent federal policy".
"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 Matt Eyles, the president and chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for insurers. And for those reasons, premiums are going up more next year than they would have otherwise.
O'Connor issued an order on May 16 that grants California and other states that support the ACA official intervenor status.