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Trump administration: Heart of health law unconstitutional

10 June 2018

"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.

"So far as I can make out, the Trump administration will continue to enforce the ACA while the litigation progresses", Nicholas Bagley, an assistant professor who specializes in health law at the University of Michigan Law School, wrote Friday in a posting on the Incidental Economist site.

"The Justice Department has an obligation to defend the law, and it has refused to do so because it dislikes this particular law", Bagley told USA TODAY. "The Department will not defend the constitutionality" of the Affordable Care Act.

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.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

In its brief, also filed on June 7, the Justice Department abandoned its customary role of defending laws passed by Congress and took the side of Texas, agreeing that the mandate is now unconstitutional.

The Trump administration is siding with Texas in the state's bid to convince a federal judge that Obamacare is largely unconstitutional.

The mandate in Obamacare was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage. "Once again, Republicans are trying to destroy protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions".

The state has been at the forefront in resisting many Trump Administration policies, including on health care and immigration. But Reyes contended the decision is a sign that the federal government is sensibly coming to terms with the constitutionality problems in the Affordable Care Act.

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The Justice Department argued the judge should strike down the section of the law that protects people buying insurance from being charged higher premiums due to their health history.

Before the Affordable Care Act marketplace launched in 2014, people with chronic diseases who tried to buy their own insurance were routinely denied coverage based on their medical history.

Until Thursday's filing, the Trump administration had not indicated its position on either this latest lawsuit or the Republican states' effort to block the law while the case moved along.

The Justice Department rarely declines to argue in favor of existing law in court and this decision will put pressure on the Affordable Care Act, the formal name for former President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

"When insurance companies face uncertainty, they increase premiums", Levitt tweeted Thursday night. HHS and Treasury administer the health law's coverage and subsidies.

But it said the rest of the law, including Medicaid expansion, can remain in place.

The administration last fall ended a key payment to insurers that helped lower the cost of insurance for low-income Americans who purchased marketplace insurance.

"Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019", said America's Health Insurance Plans, one of the industry's main lobbying groups.

Bagley said, "That's nearly unheard of". "Such withdrawals are exceedingly rare - typically only when the argument is indefensible, as they are here". They're civil servants. They're good soldiers.

Trump administration: Heart of health law unconstitutional