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California's Attorney General Vows National Fight To Defend The ACA

11 June 2018

The Trump administration delivered an early midterms present to Democrats Thursday night when the Justice Department made a decision to side with 20 GOP states in a lawsuit seeking to gut the core protections of the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions.

Besides urging nullification of the insurance-buying mandate itself, the new government position argued that two of the most popular features of the ACA must fall along with it: the requirement that insurance companies can not deny health insurance to individuals because of existing or pre-existing medical conditions, and the requirement that they can not charge higher insurance premiums based on existing or pre-existing conditions.

But some GOP lawmakers and political operatives sounded warnings on Friday about the impact of the Justice Department's decision to side with Texas and other states in a lawsuit alleging that because Congress nullified the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate penalty, the rest of the law is invalid.

The shift to health care is a notable strategy by which Democrats are hoping to remind American voters that Republicans are "deliberately sabotaging" the health care system, as Schumer put it in a letter he wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier in the week.

In a brief filed in federal court this week, the department said that parts of the health care law should not stand. "Their job is to defend federal programs", Bagley says, noting that he has not talked with any of them about the case.

A group of 17 Democratic-led states that have won standing in the case also filed a brief on Thursday night arguing for the ACA's preservation.

America's Health Insurance Plans said Friday that it plans to file a brief opposing the plaintiffs' request for emergency relief that would provides detail about the harm that would come to millions of Americans should their request to invalidate the ACA is granted either in whole or in part.

The federal lawsuit hinges on the ACA's individual mandate, or the requirement to get health coverage or pay a penalty.

Insurers, meanwhile, warned that the administration's actions could rock the individual market and could lead to higher premiums, especially for those battling illnesses.

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But I don't feel that there's something to be very afraid of because it's probably a very special case", Chen said. It is also the only US diplomatic installation in China authorized to process immigrant visas and handle adoptions.

"Texans have known all along that Obamacare is unlawful and a divided Supreme Court's approval rested exclusively on the flimsy support of Congress' authority to tax", said Paxton when the suit was filed. He said he acted after "careful consideration" and with the "approval of the President of the United States". The move means insurers could decide to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. It will add fuel to Democrats' efforts to make health care a campaign issue in the mid-term elections.

The U.S. Justice Department says that key parts of the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional.

The case in Texas, which has attracted relatively little notice until now, emerges from the massive tax bill Congress passed late previous year.

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. "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, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes", she said.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, New Jersey Republican, included a provision in the House bill that would have required insurers to cover sicker Americans but allowed states to waive the prohibition on charging them higher premiums. Now, of course, as I mentioned, the attorneys general say that the entire rest of the law is unconstitutional without that penalty for not having insurance.

Republicans on Capitol Hill had no advance warning that the administration was going to assert that protections for people with preexisting conditions is unconstitutional - a position that defies President Donald Trump's promises to maintain those protections.

Equally notable, three career prosecutors in the department withdrew from the case just before the administration announced the decision not to defend the health care law. Prior to the ACA, they often found it cost-prohibitive if not impossible to obtain health insurance because private companies didn't want to take on the additional costs of people with known health problems.

Some Democratic politicians didn't waste much time. Whatever the lower courts decide, the case seems destined to reach the Supreme Court.

The case is Texas v. U.S., 4:18-cv-001 67, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

California's Attorney General Vows National Fight To Defend The ACA