The Trump administration has elected not to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act against a sweeping legal challenge filed by a group of conservative states, marking an unusual departure from the Justice Department's traditional responsibility to safeguard federal law.
A Trump administration decision not to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act in a lawsuit seeking to dismantle it could cause chaos and deprive Americans of coverage, local politicians, providers and insurers said on Friday. "Instead, it exacerbates our current challenges and creates further uncertainty that could ultimately result in higher costs for millions of Americans and undermine essential protections for people with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes", Collins said.
"The more uncertainty there is, the more the actuaries are going to be plugging into their projections for premium rates", says Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute.
Why they did it: Republicans have targeted the Affordable Care Act for elimination ever since it passed, and President Trump continues to promise that it will be overturned.
The president previous year issued an executive order directing federal agencies to make it easier to buy two alternatives to Affordable Care Act plans.
"I favor protecting those in our society with pre-existing conditions, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse", said Mr. Lance, who voted against the GOP replacement bill.
The administration does not go as far as the Texas attorney general and his counterparts.
America's Health Insurance Plans, a major lobby for insurers, said in a statement that although premiums for next year will increase because the individual mandate penalty for not carrying insurance is being zeroed out in 2019, the market has been stabilizing. Without that form of tax, the new Administration document noted, the ACA mandate to buy insurance would be unconstitutional as beyond Congress's power to regulate interstate commercial activity.
The Trump administration's decision to stop defending in court the Obama health law's popular protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions could prove risky for Republicans in the midterm elections - and nudge premiums even higher.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., released a letter with other top Democratic senators demanding the administration reverse the move, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wasted no time blasting out news releases questioning whether Republican candidates agreed with the administration.
Stacy Stanford, policy analyst for the Utah Health Policy Project, a think tank and advocacy organization that is also a federal health exchange enrollment hub, said "the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and therefore the administration should be defending it". The mandate has always been a sticking point for conservatives, who argue that the government should not be telling individuals what coverage they must have. With President Trump's tax reform package in December 2017 removing the individual mandate requirement as a tax penalty, the last remaining reasoning to having a mandate fell apart, the suit argues.
This is a huge deal... the administration's behavior sets a unsafe precedent about the obligation of this and future presidents to follow their constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress.... Under another provision, the community rating provision, insurers were not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history. The District of Columbia and 32 states have opted to expand Medicaid eligibility under the ACA to nonelderly adults with incomes up to 138% of poverty level; several other states are considering expansion.
The same report estimates 391,000 Utahns have pre-existing conditions that could affect their coverage eligibility. "A compelling defense of the law is right there in black and white", Verrilli said in a statement.
Three career lawyers in the department's civil division withdrew from the case earlier Thursday and did not sign the brief.
In May, the court allowed more than a dozen state attorneys general, all Democrats, to "intervene" in the case and defend the law. Slavitt and others criticized the move as an unprecedented decision by the Justice Department to not defend the rule of law.
Reyes said that the Department of Justice's decision "strengthens our case, and we look forward to seeing if the district judge agrees".
Because the lawsuit could easily go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a process that could take years, the protections for people with preexisting conditions are likely to stay in place during that period.
The suit is being heard by Judge Reed O'Connell, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and has ruled against the ACA in other cases the past few years. United States has its roots in another legal travesty that these people also celebrated - the 2012 Supreme Court ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius.