Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Democrats see opportunity in Trump administration's dismissal of ACA

Democrats see opportunity in Trump administration's dismissal of ACA

"In refusing to follow bipartisan tradition and defend the ACA in the USA federal court system, the Trump administration is nakedly admitting that it wants to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, breaking a promise that the president has made time and again", said Topher Spiro, vice president of health policy at the Center for American Progress.

Back when Republicans were trying to come up with a way to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they quickly realized that while most Americans had only a vague sense of what was in the law, there were parts of it that were extraordinarily popular.

"We did that before with our repeal-and-replace bill".

Lawmakers said they still are reading a Thursday court filing that is reviving the health care reform debate in a pivotal midterm year.

The Trump administration has elected not to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act against a sweeping legal challenge filed by a group of conservative states, marking an unusual departure from the Justice Department's traditional responsibility to safeguard federal law. Supreme Court ruled that opponents of the ACA individual coverage mandate could not win a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate, because the ACA individual mandate was a tax, and a federal law prohibits parties from seeking preliminary injunctions to block new federal taxes. In the tax law, Congress repealed the penalty for people who fail to have health insurance starting in 2019.

"The decision by the Department of Justice to abandon critical patient protections is devastating for the millions of Americans who suffer from serious illnesses or have preexisting conditions and rely on those protections under current law to obtain life-saving health care".

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The nation's top insurers' lobby said Friday the administration's position is untenable and could destabilize the markets as insurers develop their offerings for next year.

The legal challenge led by the state of Texas argues that these consumer protections - as well as the law's multibillion-dollar program for expanding the Medicaid safety net to poor Americans - should be scrapped because Congress previous year repealed the penalty on Americans who don't have health coverage. "Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers". Rather, it argued that without the tax to encourage healthy people to sign up, the parts of the law guaranteeing coverage to people who have chronic illnesses or other pre-existing health conditions should be struck down as well.

"They're in charge of everything, right?"

"I concur in the Department's prior determination", Sessions said.

Insurers have faced risks tied to the Trump administration's efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act since his election. Why it matters: Protections for people with pre-existing conditions are hugely popular, and the administration may have handed Democrats their strongest health care weapon yet - because now they can make the case that the administration has gone to court to take away protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

"The Department in the past has declined to defend a statute in cases in which the president has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional and made manifest that it should not be defended, as is the case here", Sessions wrote.

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In short: The federal government is declining to defend federal law.

On Friday, America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurance industry trade group, criticized the federal government's filing.

"It's highly unlikely NY would take away consumer protections it has put in place", said a spokeswoman for the state Health Plan Association. He said if they could get rid of the filibuster rule in the Senate, then Republicans might be able to rally around an Obamacare alternative. "As data become available, further research into the effects of Medicaid expansion on trauma care and outcomes in more recent years is warranted". Under those provisions of the law, insurance companies can not deny coverage or charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions. "Forcing women to pay more for coverage than men?"

"To not cover them at all, that's a problem", he said.

Collins said both parties "need to work together to address the instability and high costs plaguing our health care system".

Rep. Leonard Lance, New Jersey Republican, said he wasn't up to speed on the new case but he's hopes it will not force Congress to scramble for fixes. A Kaiser tracking poll in June 2017 showed 70 percent of adults want Congress to keep pre-existing condition protections.

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