Another legal battle brews over health care law

United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas- Fort Worth

Wiki Media

Right before the United States submitted their court filing that agreed that parts of Obamacare are unconstitutional, attorneys Joel McElvain, Eric Beckenhauer, and Rebecca Kopplin filed a motion to withdraw their appearances as counsel for the federal government in this case (other attorneys who were already assigned to the matter are remaining).

Many health care experts disagree with that position.

Several other provisions of the law, however, are severable and can still be enforced, the Justice Department said. They say the rest of the law is not able to be separated from the mandate, and therefore should also be overturned.

After filing the brief in Texas, Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of the decision. "If they tear this apart, and they don't have an alternative, I think we're headed for a train wreck", said Rep. James McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat.

Passage of the Affordable Care Act cost them control of Congress, gave rise to the upstart Tea party movement and helped install Donald Trump in the White House.

The Trump administration's move drew comparisons to the Obama administration's decision, in 2011, to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that barred federal recognition of same-sex unions that were lawful at the state level, and which the Supreme Court later struck down.

"Once the heart of the ACA-the individual mandate-is declared unconstitutional, the remainder of the ACA must also fall", the lawsuit alleges.

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In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as a legal use of Congress's taxing power.

While they provide major protections to those with pre-existing conditions, they also have pushed up premiums for those who are young and healthy. They'll be advocating bold, ambitious plans that would radically increase government's role in the provision of health insurance.

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

The Democrats further raised concerns that even if the Justice Department's arguments are unsuccessful, the administration's move could still "raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy and weaken our democracy for years to come".

Andy Kim, a former Obama administration staffer, is making coverage of pre-existing conditions and access to affordable health care a key part of his campaign against Rep. Tom MacArthur in Central New Jersey, the author of the Obamacare repeal bill that passed the House but failed in the Senate past year.

And it didn't take long for Democrats to respond to the Trump administration's new posture.

Today, surveys suggest most Americans see the legislation in a generally positive light, a reversal from most of its eight-year history. "The ACA is the law of the land and DOJ should defend it". The Justice Department, in backing the state's argument, is seeking to strike down two of Obamacare's most popular provisions: the rule that insurance companies can't turn someone away or charge them more based on a pre-existing condition, and the rule that limits how much insurers can charge older patients for their premiums.

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The administration called on the court to declare that the provisions that guarantee coverage will be "invalid beginning on January 1, 2019", when the mandate penalty goes away.

More than one in four adults under the age of 65 have existing medical conditions, according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

Bagley said that the Trump administration's move does not signal the end of Obamacare, although it does further cloud its future.

In a court filing late Thursday, the Trump administration is specifically urging the Texas federal court to strike down two provisions from the ACA: one that requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and the other that prevents insurers from charging individuals a higher premium due to their pre-existing condition.

Medicaid is considered to be the largest source of health coverage for the USA. Collins, who voted against the Republican bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the Senate a year ago, also expressed concern about the administration's new push to undo it. "For the people not affected by the ACA, or not particularly supportive, I don't know that it will matter much".

Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress have sought to dismantle Obamacare, which sought to expand insurance coverage to more Americans. Andy Slavitt, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, tweeted that the Justice Department's decision is the "biggest health care news of the year" and a blow to public health.

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