NY braces itself against Justice Department's assertion it won't defend ACA

NY braces itself against Justice Department's assertion it won't defend ACA

If a federal judge in Texas agrees with the Department of Justice's (DOJ) move to not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans could lose their healthcare coverage or face higher premiums for having preexisting conditions, a legal professor wrote Friday in a blog post for The Commonwealth Fund. 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 cheap because they bypass the ACA's requirements for benefits that health plans sold to individuals and small business must include.

Just prior to the Trump administration's announcement that it would no longer defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in an ongoing case brought by Texas and other states, several career Justice Department attorneys withdrew from the case.

Recent polling has found that health care is a crucial issue for voters this year.

The decision, announced in a filing late Thursday in a federal court in Texas, is a rare departure from the Justice Department's practice of defending federal laws in court.

These consumer protections proved enormously popular with Americans and are among the reasons why efforts to repeal Obamacare in Congress failed a year ago. Even President Donald Trump called it one of the law's "strongest assets" during an interview with "60 Minutes" shortly after he won the election.

This claim is based on two features of the law's text: It contains no severability clause - standard language to the effect that the statute would remain valid even if one or more of its provisions proved to be in violation of existing law - and its explicit assertion that the ACA can not function without the individual mandate. 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. Texas had asked the court to consider the provision of the ACA requiring individuals to have health insurance unconstitutional. It "has made a decision to abandon the hundreds of millions of people who depend on" the law, he said in an interview with Kaiser Health News. For example, the Obama administration refused in 2011 to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages in some states.

This also extends to two major provisions of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, including one that protects people with preexisting conditions from being denied 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. It will add fuel to Democrats' efforts to make health care a campaign issue in the mid-term elections. Even that, however, proved impossible to do, and in the end they settled for a small morsel: Tucked into their tax cut bill was a provision effectively repealing the individual mandate by reducing the fine for not carrying insurance to zero. That's not exactly what the attorneys general were arguing, but that's what the Justice Department position is. For starters, it's pretty rare for the DOJ (under any party's control) to come out against an existing USA law since it's generally in the business of trying to defend the law's constitutionality. United States. Obama's last CMS administrator Andy Slavitt tweeted the following false claim: "The Trump DOJ tonight just told the courts to dismantle pre-existing conditions protections and other consumer protections".

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.

The fresh potential that the courts could deliver a significant blow to the ACA arises after a years-long perseverance by Republicans to repeal much of the sprawling 2010 statute ended in failure a year ago, leading GOP attorneys general, governors and the Trump administration to turn to the courts and administrative actions to undermine the law. The Justice Department says only the protections for people with preexisting conditions are linked to the tax - not the rest of the law, including the expansion of Medicaid.

Sessions said he agreed with the plaintiffs that without the mandate, the decision in the 2012 National Federation of Independent Business vs. former Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius, is the proper course. It was defended instead by House Republicans but declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013. U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor is presiding.