Obamacare: Trump's stance on ACA lawsuit would gut protections for the sick

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.

The Trump administration, in a late-Thursday court filing, stated that it would no longer defend provisions of the health care law, known as Obamacare, that require people to have health insurance and guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions, the Associated Press reported.

In a brief filed in a federal court in Texas, the department said a tax law signed previous year by President Donald Trump that eliminated penalties for not having health insurance rendered the so-called individual mandate under Obamacare unconstitutional. Previously, insurers could deny or restrict applicants' coverage based on their medical history, or carriers could charge higher premiums or offer only skimpy benefits to those who are or were sick. But under the GOP tax bill signed into law last December, tax penalties for people without insurance were eliminated.

"If the Trump administration is successful in arguing against the constitutionality of protecting patients' access to care, it will have immediate and disastrous effect on our health care system and the American people", the lawmakers say. For instance, it did not go after the creation of health insurance marketplaces, premium subsidies for low-income members and Medicaid expansion.

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.

Celtics' Kyrie Irving to Knicks after 2018-19 season?
Irving played with the Cavaliers from 2011-17 before he forced a traded to Boston in August. You're on a winning team. "Maybe the mindset has changed significantly".

"I find it impossible to believe that the many talented lawyers at the department could not come up with any arguments to defend the ACA's insurance market reforms, which have made such a difference to millions of Americans", Verrilli said.

Sessions said in his letter that the Justice Department was not arguing that the entire law does not pass constitutional muster.

"Justice Department attorneys don't withdraw from cases simply because the government is making an argument the lawyers think the courts should or would reject", he said.

"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost.

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