Another legal battle brews over health care law

Another legal battle brews over health care law

The Trump administration told a federal court on Thursday that it would no longer defend crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act because they were part of an unconstitutional scheme that required most Americans to carry health insurance. 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.

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.

"We implore you to listen to the voices of career Justice Department lawyers, as well as concerned families, patients, doctors and hospitals that want to retain these protections, and start working with Democrats to strengthen our health care system instead of trying to tear it down", the senators said in their letter to Trump. It takes effect next year.

And Tim Hogan, a spokesman for Health Care Voters, a Democratic group looking to mobilize voters on the health care issue, called the decision a "blatant sabotage of the Affordable Care Act" and "something Republican members of Congress will have to explain to their constituents". The filing is part of a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas and a coalition of other Republican-led states that are challenging Obamacare's constitutionality. In that case, the Supreme Court held up the individual mandate as constitutional only because it could be construed as a tax that raised revenue for the government.

"The decision would cut out the heart of the ACA and completely rewire the health insurance markets", he said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter to Congress that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy. He said he acted after "careful consideration" and with the "approval of the President of the United States". These include a "ban on insurers denying coverage and charging higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions".

Sixteen states have intervened in the case to support the law. It will add fuel to Democrats' efforts to make health care a campaign issue in the mid-term elections.

But Sessions also said that he agrees with the Department of Justice's opinion at the time of the 2012 case, that if the mandate is unconstitutional, it is separate from the ACA's other provisions, except those guaranteeing issuance of coverage in the individual and group market.

"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections", America's Health Insurance Plans said in a statement.

Robert De Niro uses F-bomb about Trump on live TV
He finished by saying: "Your biggest obstacle may turn into your goal ". The event marks the performers' first time hosting the awards ceremony.

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". In the legal filing, the Department of Justice argues in favor of invalidating protections for those Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Regardless of the federal court's ruling-which observers said may come by late summer or early fall-New York state law now protects consumers from such actions by insurers.

Among them is Andy Kim, a former Obama administration national security aide who is running to unseat New Jersey Republican Representative Tom MacArthur, sponsor of an amendment to the GOP's 2017 Obamacare repeal that allowed states to seek waivers to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions.

"If the Justice Department can just throw in the towel whenever a law is challenged in court, it can effectively pick and choose which laws should remain on the books", wrote Bagley.

Many health care experts disagree with that position.

Donald B. Verrilli Jr., a solicitor general in the Obama administration, said there were obviously reasonable arguments that could be made in defense of the Affordable Care Act in the Texas case, pointing to those in a brief filed Thursday by California and 15 other states. Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Noel J. Francisco, President Trump's Solicitor General in February.

Some Democratic politicians didn't waste much time.

Ironically, the existence of that financial penalty in the law was what had saved the individual insurance mandate from being struck down by the Supreme Court six years ago.

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