Local politicians, health leaders concerned with access to care

The Trump administration is calling a key part of Obamacare that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional

The Trump administration is calling a key part of Obamacare that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional

In a brief filed Thursday in federal district court in Texas, the department argues that the individual mandate, as well as the community rating and guaranteed issue provisions of the law, are all unconstitutional and need not be defended in a case now pending before the court.

That includes the requirement that people have health insurance and sections that guarantee access to coverage regardless of any medical conditions, the Associated Press reported.

Now, the Justice Department's stance in a federal-court case in Texas will allow Democrats to argue that Republicans want to deny affordable health coverage to some of the people who need it most.

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.

"The administration's attempt to eliminate protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions is just the latest - and potentially the most damaging - example of the coordinated effort by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, driving up uninsured rates and out-of-pocket costs for Americans", the Democrats said.

In Virginia's 2017 elections, for instance, exit polls showed health care far and away the most important issue for voters, and those who said it was their top issue picked Democrat Ralph Northam over Republican Ed Gillespie in the governor's race by a margin of 77-22 percent.

"The American public widely supports retaining protections for pre-existing conditions".

On Thursday evening, the Trump administration submitted a legal filing saying it would not "defend the constitutionality" of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in support of a lawsuit filed by Republican-led states filed a lawsuit earlier this year.

"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.

The president last fall ended "cost-sharing reduction payments" to insurers that offset discounts that the law promises to lower-income customers in the out-of-pocket costs for ACA health plans.

Apple's new wellness features really, really want to fix your smartphone addiction
Even if users click to share an item, they will get a prompt with an option to prevent subsequent tracking. A new report claims Apple is looking to tackle this challenge by focusing more on its ad sales business.

For instance, existing rules would protect people with pre-existing conditions for twelve months if the ACA were struck down.

But others say the legal brief may have minimal impact next year on premiums.

The administration said it agrees with Texas that the so-called individual mandate will be unconstitutional without the fine. That was what five Justices of the Supreme Court said when a different combination of five Justices voted to uphold the mandate as a form of tax.

Sessions, in his letter to Ryan, said that the parts of the law restricting the variance in the premiums that could be charged and requiring insurers to cover everyone did hinge on the mandate, because without the mandate, "individuals could wait until they become sick to purchase insurance, thus driving up premiums for everyone else".

The Justice Department lawyers representing Trump's U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Trump's Internal Revenue Services have asked the court to narrow the scope of the suit, and then to grant a ruling in favor of Texas and its allies on the narrower version of the suit.

The lawsuit could easily go all the way to the Supreme Court before there is a resolution, which could take years. Conservatives at the time accused the Justice Department of politicization. That's because insurers already expected the Trump administration would not defend the ACA - and they know that a resolution of the case will be years away, says industry consultant Robert Laszewski. But the court will take notice that the Trump administration has switched sides.

Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, slammed the Trump administration on Friday for not defending the ACA in court.

In a three-page letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged "the Executive Branch has a longstanding tradition of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense". "Once again, Republicans are trying to destroy protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions".

"The goal of Texas' lawsuit is to leave Americans without health insurance, forcing them to choose between their health and other needs", says California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

"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.