Justice Department move on health law has risks for GOP

Jim West via ZUMA

Jim West via ZUMA

Professor Nicholas Bagley, of the University of MI, says the case required the Trump administration to decide whether it will defend the ACA from constitutional attack.

Becerra accused the administration of going "AWOL".

Justice Department tells court it won't defend...

Meanwhile, California and several other states filed a motion to intervene to defend the law. The most hypocritical claims take the Trump administration to task for not enforcing the law.

On Friday, America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurance industry trade group, criticized the federal government's filing. But Texas handpicked the judge in the case, who has demonstrated his aversion to the ACA in other cases.

Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package past year, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and must be "struck down", attorneys for the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday. They were successful in repealing the individual mandate that requires all Americans to have health insurance after it was included in the GOP's tax reform legislation that Trump signed into law in December. By withdrawing from defending the law in court, the Trump administration is saying it no longer supports those consumer protections, which are popular with voters. 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.

"The Justice Department's refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act in federal court is a stunning attack on the rule of law, the stability of our health care system, and Americans" access to affordable health care", said Reps.

White House aide steps down after anger over remarks on McCain's health
Conway would not say if such comments were disqualifying for working in the administration . "And they should be fired". This angered Schlapp, who is married to Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union.

"The Department in the past has declined to defend a statute in cases in which the president has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional and made manifest that it should not be defended, as is the case here", Sessions wrote. However, the Trump administration contends the individual mandate only becomes unconstitutional as of 2019, calling for a declaratory judgment from the court on the constitutionality but a denial of a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs.

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. For instance, in 2012 the Obama Justice Department said it would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which legally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman for federal purposes.

"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. "Our coalition of states and partners across the country will fight any effort to strip families of their health insurance", he said.

The new challenge comes six years after the Supreme Court's divided ruling that the ACA is constitutional.

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

During that time, "policymakers in California would look really hard at being able to try to do something so we don't lose those gains", said Deborah Kelch, director of the Insure the Uninsured Project in Sacramento. The Trump administration agrees with assessment of the individual mandate also mentioning that the guaranteed issuance of coverage and community rating provisions are tied to the individual mandate and are not severable requiring those provisions to be voided, but the rest of the ACA is severable. No one has pushed that issue forward in the Legislature. The Trump administration is also trying to make it easier for healthier people to get less comprehensive health insurance, which would also take more healthy people out of the pool where most people buy their individual insurance. "It's being mugged", King said in a twitter statement on Friday. "Congress in 2010 may have thought that a mandate may have been an essential component of the ACA, but a subsequent Congress indicated otherwise by eliminating the penalty without altering the other parts of the law".

SIMON: Julie Rovner, chief Washington, DC, correspondent for Kaiser Health News. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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