Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

The Trump administration says Obamacare is unconstitutional: What it means to you

Credit  Stephen Boitano  Polaris  Newscom Credit Stephen Boitano Polaris Newscom
| 11 June, 2018, 16:29

U.S. Department of Justice lawyers launched that attack on part of the ACA Wednesday, by asking a federal court in Texas to let the governments of Texas and other states that oppose the ACA win part of a suit they have filed - but only part of their suit.

Many Democrats said health care is the GOP's greatest political vulnerability in the November congressional elections and by siding with Texas in the court case Thursday night, President Donald Trump's Justice Department poured gasoline on already burning fire.

"While much about health care is complicated, one thing is clear as we move forward: both parties need to work together to address the instability and high costs plaguing our health care system", Collins said.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: My pleasure. 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. Instead, Justice officials argue in their brief that the ACA's insurance requirement will not become unconstitutional until January, so that "the injury imposed by the individual mandate is not sufficiently imminent" and that the judge could issue a final ruling in the case before then. Trump extolled passage of the tax reform package as it nears, and celebrated the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate included in the tax package. Even that, however, proved impossible to do, and in the end they settled for a small morsel: Tucked into their tax cut bill was a provision effectively repealing the individual mandate by reducing the fine for not carrying insurance to zero. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan explaining that this is a "rare case" that warrants deviating from the Justice Department's "longstanding tradition of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes".

Most Republicans on Friday insisted they continued to support coverage for people with preexisting conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. It requires insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions - charge them the same rates as everybody else?

ROVNER: Yes, it does. United States. Obama's last CMS administrator Andy Slavitt tweeted the following false claim: "The Trump DOJ tonight just told the courts to dismantle pre-existing conditions protections and other consumer protections". A December 2016 poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 75 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans approved of the law's provision prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on a person's health status or medical history.

ROVNER: Those are the main parts.


Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who voted against the Republican repeal bills in the Senate previous year, also expressed concern about the administration's new push, saying it "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, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes".

The Justice Department legal position nevertheless signals a remarkable willingness by the Trump administration to abandon landmark consumer protections in the health care law that for the first time prohibit health insurers from turning away sick consumers. "In practice, this likely would exclude from the commercial health insurance markets individuals with preexisting conditions, individuals with illnesses that are expensive to treat, and many individuals over the age of 50 or 55".

ROVNER: Well, immediately, of course, it wouldn't.

But Bagley noted that the Trump administration "loathes the ACA" and the Obama administration's refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defined marriage between a man and a woman back in 2011, sets precedent.

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".

"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". Why is that happening?

Though Republicans loathe the 2010 law, many of them have pushed for market-oriented solutions that allow sicker Americans to obtain insurance without facing sky-high prices. Their lawsuit has contended that the entire ACA program can not function as an economic matter without the assurances of adequate numbers of people buying insurance. The Trump administration is also trying to make it easier for healthier people to get less comprehensive health insurance, which would also take more healthy people out of the pool where most people buy their individual insurance.

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