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House GOP: No need to panic over Obamacare lawsuit

11 June 2018, 02:50 | Randall Craig

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

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

For the first time, the Trump Administration moved on Thursday to challenge the constitutionality of the key section of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") that required most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a financial penalty as part of their taxes. While the subsidies would not go away, it is unclear how their amount would be determined if insurers could return to the days before the law of charging higher prices to people with previous medical conditions - or refusing to cover them at all.More recently, the administration is in the midst of rewriting federal rules to make it easier for people to buy two types of insurance that are relatively low-priced because they bypass the ACA's requirements for benefits that health plans sold to individuals and small business must include.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says a decision by the Department of Justice not to defend pivotal parts of the Affordable Care Act in court will strengthen the state's recently submitted lawsuit, filed with 19 other states, that argues the entire law should be struck down as unconstitutional.

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. It takes effect next year.

Republicans in Congress have tried endlessly to the repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama. 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". The lawsuit, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, contends that without an individual mandate, the entirety of the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.

Becerra is leading an effort by Democratic attorney generals from others states and the District of Columbia to defend the ACA against that lawsuit.

Still, insurers downplayed the size of the impact of the litigation, saying uncertainty from the repeal of the individual mandate penalties last December and other recent changes that loosen regulations in the health insurance market have already been factored into prices.

Justice Department tells court it won't defend... Last October, the president unilaterally ended a significant part of the law that cushions insurers financially from an obligation to give discounts to decrease out-of-pocket costs to lower-income customers with ACA coverage.

FILE - Stacy Stanford attends a rally to Support Healthy Utah at the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 5, 2015. But a year ago the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated those penalties as part of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that Trump signed in December.

Nevertheless, the Justice Department's position did not go quite as far as the Texas suit.




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

If the court agrees with the Justice Department's argument to toss out part of the law that protects individuals with an existing medical condition, that could affect millions of Americans who buy insurance directly from the marketplace.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate - requiring Americans to purchase insurance and exacting a yearly financial penalty from those who don't - was not a constitutional use of the Commerce Clause, but that it was a lawful use of Congress' authority to require taxes.

These two provisions, along with rules that allow children to stay on their parents' health plan until they are 26 years old, have proven popular with Americans.

"We agree with the [Trump] administration that a preliminary injunction should not be granted to the plaintiffs". The Justice Department isn't asking for anything immediately.

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law. "But even if the Justice Department's arguments fail, as they should, the administration's violation of its duty to faithfully execute our nation's laws will still raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy, and weaken our democracy for years to come".

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., released a letter with other top Democratic senators demanding the administration reverse the move, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wasted no time blasting out news releases questioning whether Republican candidates agreed with the administration.

The states want the court to declare the mandate to be unconstitutional.



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