Trump Administration Move Imperils Pre-Existing Condition Protections


In a federal court case filed by Texas and 19 other states against the ACA, the Justice Department filed a brief on Thursday that dubbed unconstitutional the Obamacare requirement for all Americans to have insurance. Those are the ACA rules that keep health plans from considering personal health factors other than age and tobacco use when deciding whether to sell people coverage, or what premiums to charge.

Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the lawsuit said that without the individual mandate, Obamacare in its entirety was unlawful.

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.

Texas and other Republican-led states are suing to strike down the entire law because Congress recently repealed a provision that people without health insurance must pay a fine.

The Justice Department took a different tack in a court filing on Thursday. "This sabotage also has those with pre-existing conditions once again facing the prospect of denied coverage, increased costs, and medical bankruptcy".

"I'm running for Congress because a year ago, during the lead up to my son's birth, our doctor told my wife and I that our son may not survive or have a serious health condition for the rest of his life", Kim said Friday. What's at issue here is the fact that Congress is getting rid of the penalty for the individual mandate, reducing it to zero as of next January 1 - January 1, 2019.

A continuing challenge of covering the three-ring circus that is the Trump administration is not letting the outrageous antics and statements of the president and his allies distract attention from the outrageous policies being implemented on his watch.

Because the ACA contains no severability clause protecting the rest of the law from the effects of the nullification of part of the law, a ruling killing the individual mandate should kill the rest of the ACA, the states say.

The two provisions, along with Obamacare's requirement that insurers offer comprehensive coverage, have been targets of Republicans seeking to repeal the law and lower premiums. But it did say that the ACA provisions on pre-existing conditions are so linked to the individual mandate that it should now be struck down.

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.

Becerra accused the administration of going “AWOL.” It “has made a decision to abandon the hundreds of millions of people who depend on” the law, he said in an interview with Kaiser Health News. "We call upon the Administration to reverse this decision and defend the rights of our patients", Stewart said.

The DoJ also sided with the states in arguing that two of the law's core consumer protections - which make health insurers cover sick consumers and prohibit them from charging sick consumers higher premiums - can not be severed from the individual mandate and, therefore, are likewise unconstitutional.

"It's highly unlikely NY would take away consumer protections it has put in place", said a spokeswoman for the state Health Plan Association.

It said the rest of the law, including Medicaid expansion, can remain in place. Andy Slavitt, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, tweeted that the Justice Department's decision is the "biggest health care news of the year" and a blow to public health. That's not exactly what the attorneys general were arguing, but that's what the Justice Department position is. And because a scant majority of the Supreme Court had said it was Congress's taxing powers that saved the ACA from being unconstitutional, that protection was no longer there.

Today, surveys suggest most Americans see the legislation in a generally positive light, a reversal from most of its eight-year history.

Yesterday, the Trump administration's Department of Justice dropped a bombshell in a rural Texas federal courthouse. But Perry breaks with many fellow conservatives when it comes to helping those who can't afford insurance.

The fresh potential that the courts could deliver a significant blow to the ACA arises after a years-long perseverance by Republicans to repeal much of the sprawling 2010 statute ended in failure a year ago, leading GOP attorneys general, governors and the Trump administration to turn to the courts and administrative actions to undermine the law. Just two years later, five justices of the Supreme Court embraced Barnett's argument.