Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Justice Department says heart of Affordable Care Act unconstitutional

Justice Department says heart of Affordable Care Act unconstitutional

The Trump administration delivered an early midterms present to Democrats Thursday night when the Justice Department chose to side with 20 GOP states in a lawsuit seeking to gut the core protections of the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions.

According to the AP, the administration said it agrees that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional without the fine and that language protecting those with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums should also be struck down.

Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the lawsuit said that without the individual mandate, Obamacare in its entirety was unlawful.

In a brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department sided with Texas and a coalition of other Republican-led states that had filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare.

The Justice Department rarely declines to argue in favor of existing law in court and this decision will put pressure on the Affordable Care Act, the formal name for former President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

In many ways, the lawsuit, filed in February, is a replay of the politically divided litigation that ended with the Supreme Court upholding the health care overhaul in 2012.

They further cast the administration's brief, which was filed in federal court Thursday, as an "attack" on both the rule of law and the stability of the United States' health care system.

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The major difference is that the justice department, under Donald Trump, has largely switched sides.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

A coalition of 20 US states sued the federal government in February, claiming the law was no longer constitutional after last year's repeal of the penalty that individuals had to pay for not having insurance.

It backs up their contention that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional.

Department officials believe because the Obamacare mandate was repealed, but is still in place- the mandate is no longer a tax.

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

"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost.

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