Trump DOJ looks to gut key Obamacare provision

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

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

The Trump administration said in a court filing late Thursday that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that people have health insurance and provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions.

The Department of Justice said Thursday that it will not defend the constitutionality of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in a lawsuit now underway in Texas.

Of Texas v. United States America's Health Insurance Plans said Friday, "Initial filings for 2019 plans have shown that, while rates are higher due to the zeroing out of the individual mandate penalty, the market is more steady for most consumers than in previous years, with insurance providers stepping in to serve more consumers in more states".

Mr. MacArthur said it would be hard for Congress to revisit the brutal health care fight, although it's unclear if the lawsuit will get "any legs under it".

Republicans have been trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act - a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's legacy - since it was enacted in 2010 without any Republican votes. 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.

Stanford said removing the restrictions on pre-existing conditions would take Americans back when "insurance companies could pore through your medical records and anything you mentioned to your doctor was fair game". The Supreme Court's 2012 ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act called the individual mandate penalty a tax - and therefore legal.

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

The Department of Justice said it agrees with Texas that the so-called individual mandate will be unconstitutional without the fine.

Weighing in on a Texas challenge to the health law, the Justice Department argued that legally and practically the popular consumer protections can not be separated from the unpopular insurance mandate, which Congress has repealed, effective next year.

HHS and Treasury administer the health law's coverage and subsidies.

Some Democratic politicians didn't waste much time.

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

For years, Republicans said they would protect people who suffer from preexisting conditions and were priced out of the individual market.

This is a huge deal... the administration's behavior sets a unsafe precedent about the obligation of this and future presidents to follow their constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress....

The case in Texas, which has attracted relatively little notice until now, emerges from the massive tax bill Congress passed late a year ago. Under another provision, the community rating provision, insurers were not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history.

Epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, lupus, sleep apnea, and pregnancy are all examples of pre-existing conditions. In this case, California is leading a group of Democrat-led states in defending the law.

Texas and the accompanying states have asked for a preliminary injunction that could suspend the entire law while the case plays out in court.

The Justice Department legal position nevertheless signals a remarkable willingness by the Trump administration to abandon landmark consumer protections in the health care law that for the first time prohibit health insurers from turning away sick consumers. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement.

"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.

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law. 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.

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.

Ultimately, we'll all have to wait to see where the court sides on the argument, which is little comfort to the 130 million people with pre-existing conditions who could soon find themselves in a world of financial trouble.

The suit is being heard by Judge Reed O'Connell, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and has ruled against the ACA in other cases the past few years.