Thursday, 21 June, 2018

The 'Biggest Health Care News of the Year'

The Trump administration is calling a key part of Obamacare that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional The Trump Administration Is Using a New Tactic to Dismantle Obamacare. What You Need to Know About It
Marlene Weaver | 11 June, 2018, 14:47

It said in a brief that the Affordable Care Act's rules barring insurers from denying coverage or charging different rates based on a person's medical history should no longer be enforced because they were created to work alongside the individual mandate.

Democrats swiftly portrayed the surprise move by the Justice Department, outlined Thursday in a brief supporting a court case filed by Texas and 19 other states, as a harsh blow to Americans with fragile health and their families.

While the case still must play out before the nation's high court, the Justice Department's decision to not defend the law could create some uncertainty for health insurers that sell plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, according to Larry Levitt, a Kaiser Family Foundation senior vice president who closely monitors the health law. Now that Congress has chose to zero out the penalty, as Republicans did previous year as part of the 2017 tax cut, the pre-existing conditions have to go, too.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra pledged Friday to redouble his efforts as the Affordable Care Act's leading defender, saying attacks by the Trump Administration threaten health care for millions of Americans. The most hypocritical claims take the Trump administration to task for not enforcing the law. But in this instance it agrees with the state that the individual mandate and other requirements should be deemed illegitimate as of January 1, 2019.

One wrinkle that could keep the case alive, even if the states that oppose the ACA and the Trump administration want to resolve the case in favor of Texas and its allies, is that California, New York and other states that support the ACA have asked to intervene. It argues that because the tax reform bill passed by Congress gets rid of the ACA's "individual mandate" penalty for not having health insurance, the requirement for individuals to have health insurance is void, and because of that, the rest of the law - which they say hinges on the mandate - should be invalidated.

As the Cuomo administration frequently points out, the state's uninsured rate has fallen to below 5%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and insurance can be purchased for less than half its price in 2013 before the ACA was implemented. Allowing the Democratic officials to join the suit "allows us to protect the health and well-being of these Americans by defending affordable access to health care". He said the department only refused to defend the pre-existing conditions provision as well as one forbidding insurers from charging people in the same community different rates based on gender, age, health status or other factors.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday - before the Trump administration decision was unveiled - found health care was the top issue for all voters and that it's an issue where Democrats have an overwhelming advantage. While it is uncommon for the Justice Department to go against federal law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he acted with the "approval of the President of the United States".

Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem to win record 11th Roland Garros title
The score may have looked rather routine but there was some drama in the third set when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0. One down-the-line forehand victor landed right at the baseline and Thiem's shoulders sagged as he muttered to himself.

"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections", America's Health Insurance Plans said in a statement. Tom Miller of the American Enterprise Institute told Politico that the refusal to defend key parts of the ACA shows that the Trump administration is going even further in its battle against the health care law. For starters, it's pretty rare for the DOJ (under any party's control) to come out against an existing US law since it's generally in the business of trying to defend the law's constitutionality.

The Trump administration's move drew comparisons to the Obama administration's decision, in 2011, to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that barred federal recognition of same-sex unions that were lawful at the state level, and which the Supreme Court later struck down.

A coalition of 20 states led by attorneys from Texas and Wisconsin sued the government in February for the repeal of the Obamacare provisions.

But the administration disagrees with that position. Fifty-two million Americans with preexisting conditions are at risk or denial of coverage or higher premiums, wrote Timothy S. Jost, JD an emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

In an unusual filing just before 6 p.m. Thursday, when the brief was due, the three career Justice attorneys involved in the case - Joel McElvain, Eric Beckenhauer and Rebecca Kopplin - withdrew.

If Democrats don't repeat that sentence a thousand times a day between now and November, they're nuts. The lawsuit will be heard by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas. In 2012, the Supreme Court held that the insurance mandate was unconstitutional as a nationwide mandate.

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