Health Care

U.S. Justice Department says Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional

U.S. Justice Department says Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional”

The repeal takes effect next year.

The Trump administration is trying out a new tactic to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): calling at least one provision of it unconstitutional.

In a legal filing Thursday night, the Department of Justice said that key parts of Obamacare should be invalidated and that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Democrats, who were already favored going into this November's election both on the generic ballot and on health care in particular, pounced on the news of the lawsuit, predicting "serious blowback in the midterms" for Republicans.

"Democrats destroyed the health care system as we knew when they rammed Obamacare down our throats", he said in an email, "and now all they can talk about is moving to a single-payer health care system". Under the current health care law individuals can not be denied healthcare due to their existing health condition. The companies were already nervous because of Congress's decision a year ago to eliminate the penalty for going without health coverage. In the case of health care, "fortunately we have 16 other [Democratic attorneys general] who are prepared to do it with us".

"This lawsuit is less about altering the law and more about blowing it up", Levitt said.

Stanford said removing the restrictions on pre-existing conditions would take Americans back when "insurance companies could pore through your medical records and anything you mentioned to your doctor was fair game".

Crusading against the ACA has been a priority of President Donald Trump since his campaign for the White House.

According to health-policy experts, a court ruling in favor of the suing GOP states and the administration would trigger what one called "immediate chaos" in the law's insurance marketplaces created under the law.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, predicted that the resurrection of the issue would mobilize voters, saying, "There's nothing quite like the administration taking an action in court to illustrate the simple fact that they are still coming after your health care". On Friday, Democratic members of the House of Representatives were furious. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released in early June found that 36 percent people are "very uncomfortable" with a candidate who supports repealing the ACA - a significant jump up from 25 percent in 2010.

But that was not the talking point of the party's re-election arm. The states argue that after Congress eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate, effective in 2019, as part of last year's tax reform bill, it destabilized other sections of the law. And because a scant majority of the Supreme Court had said it was Congress's taxing powers that saved the ACA from being unconstitutional, that protection was no longer there.

The case in Texas, which has attracted relatively little notice until now, emerges from the massive tax bill Congress passed late previous year. The brief was filed in Texas v. Azar, a case brought in February by Texas and 19 other Republican-led states.

"The DOJ agrees with Texas that the individual mandate is unconstitutional once the tax penalty was zeroed out, and if it is struck down, the guaranteed issue and community ratings provisions go with it", said Jost.

The Trump administration's decision to abandon the Affordable Care Act in an ongoing court challenge could affect some of the most popular pillars of the law - further intensifying the fight over health care in the middle of an election year.

The same report estimates 391,000 Utahns have pre-existing conditions that could affect their coverage eligibility.

The main trade association for health insurers came out strongly against the administration's position. Insurers say the individual health insurance market is more stable than people might think.

The Trump administration's move fueled accusations that it was politicizing the Justice Department, which is supposed to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes in court - even if the administration in power does not like them - if reasonable arguments can be made.

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

Bailey's spokesman Corey Uhden said Friday that he wouldn't comment on the constitutionality of the ACA provisions. "This is a sad moment". The Justice Department is determined to remove the clause from the Affordable Health Care Act.

"Withdrawing from a case en masse like this, right before the brief is filed, is unheard of", noted Nicholas Bagley, a former Justice Department lawyer who now teaches at the University of Michigan Law School.

Reyes said that the Department of Justice's decision "strengthens our case, and we look forward to seeing if the district judge agrees". "Such withdrawals are exceedingly rare - typically only when the argument is indefensible, as they are here".

"It's highly unlikely NY would take away consumer protections it has put in place", said a spokeswoman for the state Health Plan Association. Conservatives at the time accused the Justice Department of politicization.



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