Medical

Trump administration decides to stop defending pre-existing condition protections

Trump administration decides to stop defending pre-existing condition protections

The Trump administration filed a brief in the case on Thursday, arguing that without the tax to encourage healthy people to sign up, the parts of the law guaranteeing coverage to people with previous health conditions - without charging them higher rates - should be struck down as well.

A coalition of 20 USA states sued the federal government in February, claiming the law was no longer constitutional after last year's repeal of the penalty that individuals had to pay for not having insurance.

The decision by the department (DoJ) was announced in a filing in a federal court in Texas, part of a lawsuit brought by Texas and other Republican-led states to strike down the entire law.

The Department of Justice has said it will not legally defend the ACA's restriction on insurers asking about pre-existing health conditions as a determinant for whether to offer coverage and at what rates, saying it believes the provision is unconstitutional. It argued that the Supreme Court held that the mandate was unconstitutional in 2012 as a legal command, but upheld it as a tax penalty. The guarantee that people should be able to buy insurance regardless of their health history has been a popular provision of the divisive law - one that President Trump has praised, calling the law's prohibition on denying insurance to sick people "one of the strongest assets" of the ACA in a "60 Minutes" interview before he took office. Moreover, Congress had no intention of repealing the rest of the law when it eliminated the individual mandate in 2017.

"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.

A group of Democratic state attorneys general, lead by California's Xavier Becerra, are riding to the law's defense.




As a result, the Texas lawsuit contends, "the country is left with an individual mandate to buy health insurance that lacks any constitutional basis".

"The Trump administration once again is allowing premiums to go up and middle class Americans to pay more", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a tweet.

"Because the mandate is unconstitutional, those. elements must fail as well", he said.

Jost said it's telling that three career Justice Department lawyers refused to support the administration's position. It also said that provisions shielding people with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums and limiting how much insurers can charge older Americans should fall as well.

These consumer protections proved enormously popular with Americans and are among the reasons why efforts to repeal Obamacare in Congress failed a year ago. In their suit, lodged in February in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, they argue that the entire law is now invalid.

The Democrats argued that DOJ's refusal to defend the controversial health care law could eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and "have profound consequences for patients, the health care system and the American economy". This policy change would jeopardize coverage not just for consumers in the individual market, but also people with preexisting conditions who have employer-sponsored coverage.


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