Friday, 19 October, 2018

ACA lawsuit could jeopardize 52 million Americans' access to health care

MIAMI FL- FEBRUARY 05 Ariel Fernandez sits with Noel Nogues an insurance advisor with Uni Vista Insurance company as he signs up for the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare before the February 15th deadline Trump justice department will stop defending key parts of Obamacare
Samantha Long | 10 June, 2018, 17:59

Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package previous year, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and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.

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

"I am at a loss for words to explain how big of a deal this is", University of MI law professor Nicholas Bagley said in a blog post.

Sessions said in his letter that the Justice Department was not arguing that the entire law does not pass constitutional muster. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the lawyers' withdrawal had been a department decision, declining to specify whether the lawyers had personally objected to continuing on the case.

"It's, simply put, an attack on the health care that millions of Americans have come to count on, and California, being the most successful state in implementing the Affordable Care Act, stands to lose perhaps more than anyone else".

Bagley said the brief reveals the "depth of institutional decay at the Department of Justice", and he expressed profound concern about the precedent it sets.

"Insurance companies hate uncertainty, and when they face uncertainty they tend to increase premiums and hedge their bets", said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. But Sessions said this was a "rare case" and not unprecedented.

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

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The brief was filed in Texas v. Azar, a case brought in February by Texas and 19 other Republican-led states.

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.

However, the Trump administration believes the provision of the ACA guaranteeing affordable rates to those with pre-existing conditions must be thrown out with the individual mandate.

Pelosi and other supporters of the ACA were quick to condemn the move.

"So many families from every political persuasion will lose the ability to find and purchase coverage because they have a pre-existing condition", Wood said. "The Trump Administration is perpetuating the same cruel vision of higher costs and less coverage that House Republicans voted for in the monstrosity of Trumpcare".

Loosening the health law's rules on pre-existing conditions and on charging more to older adults is a key goal for the Trump administration. "The ACA is the law of the land and DOJ should defend it".

"The decision by the Department of Justice to abandon critical patient protections is devastating for the millions of Americans who suffer from serious illnesses or have preexisting conditions and rely on those protections under current law to obtain life-saving health care", wrote a coalition of patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. "The brief filed by the Trump Administration yesterday represents a shocking break from precedent, and relies on legally dubious, partisan claims to argue against the constitutionality of the current law", they said in a joint statement.

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