Justice Dept. Says Crucial Provisions of Obamacare Are Unconstitutional

Justice Dept. Says Crucial Provisions of Obamacare Are Unconstitutional

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

"The Justice Department's refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act in federal court is a stunning attack on the rule of law, the stability of our health care system, and Americans" access to affordable health care", said Reps.

Three attorneys for the government withdrew from the case just minutes before the Justice Department's filing in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, which signaled an internal rift within the administration over its role in defending US law, according to University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley.

Texas and other GOP-led states have filed suit to strike down the entire law, with Congress recently repealing a provision that subjected those who failed to obtain health insurance to a fine, according to reports. The repeal takes effect next year.

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

In many ways, the lawsuit, filed in February, is a replay of the politically divided litigation that ended with the U.S. supreme court upholding the healthcare overhaul in 2012. Typically, the department defends federal laws in court.

The major difference is that the justice department, under Donald Trump, has largely switched sides.

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The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

The mandate introduced with Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

Shortly before the government's court filing, three career lawyers at the justice department withdrew from the case and were replaced by two political appointees, according to court filings.

The filing declares unconstitutional the so-called individual mandate-which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a "tax" if they don't-and calls for several elements of ACA to be invalidated.

The Democrats further raised concerns that even if the Justice Department's arguments are unsuccessful, the administration's move could still "raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy and weaken our democracy for years to come".

While Justice Department attorneys often advocate for laws they may personally disagree with, those three civil servants instead made a decision to exit from the case, which Bagley described as "almost unheard of".

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