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Cities Sue Trump Administration Over ACA Sabotage

By August 2, 2018No Comments

Yesterday, four cities — Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus, and Cincinnati— filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for intentionally sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s how the lawsuit has been received nationally:

NBC News: Suit Seeks To Force Trump To Adopt Policies To Expand Rather Than Shrink Enrollment. “The suit seeks to force Trump to adopt policies intended to expand rather than shrink enrollment; reduce rather than increase premiums; and promote instead of attack the ACA. Among the specific rules plaintiffs seek to reverse are allowing exchanges to strip individuals of tax credits without notification and reducing oversight of insurance agents and brokers, as well as oversight of the law in general.” [NBC News, 8/2/18]

Fortune: “Trump Broke Constitutional Law By Attacking Obamacare, Lawsuit Says.” “Since Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year, President Donald Trump has attempted to weaken the program through eliminating protections, discouraging enrollment, and driving up costs, the lawsuit argues. According to court filings, this directly violates a clause in the U.S. constitution, which states the president and their administration must ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’” [Fortune, 8/2/18]

Esquire: “Consequences Be Damned.”: “[T]he administration’s ongoing attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act has led folks into interesting places. For example, four cities are now suing the president on the grounds that, in the case of the ACA, the president is in violation of his oath of office, and of Article II of the Constitution…The lawsuit got some ammunition on Thursday when the Brookings Institute released a study concluding that insurance premiums would have gone downhad the president and his party simply allowed the law to work.”

The Hill: Four Cities File Lawsuit Saying Administration’s Sabotage of ACA Violates Constitution. The cities of Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus and Cincinnati filed the lawsuit in federal court in Maryland, arguing that Trump’s actions against the Affordable Care Act violate the Constitution’s provision that the president ‘shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’ The lawsuit points to a range of administration actions in arguing its case, including that it expanded insurance options that do not comply with the health-care law’s rules, that it cut funding for outreach to help people sign up for coverage, and that it shortened the sign-up period for ObamaCare.” [The Hill, 8/2/18]

Talking Points Memo: Cities Cite Trump Effort To Ways Trump Has “Depressed Health Insurance Enrollment And Driven Up Costs For Both Individuals And Taxpayers. Cities filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the Trump administration of violating the “Take Care” clause of the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act by chipping away at the Affordable Care Act in ways that have depressed health insurance enrollment and driven up costs for both individuals and taxpayers.” [Talking Points Memo, 8/2/18]

What experts have to say:

Andy Slavitt, Former Administrator of CMS: The ACA Lawsuit Will Be Yet Another Test Of The Rule Of Law For A President Who Seems To Have Very Little Regard For Those Constraints.” The ACA lawsuit will be yet another test of the rule of law for a president who seems to have very little regard for those constraints. It coincides with two major political events that highlight the issues at stake. First up is Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing, where he will be questioned extensively about his views on the limits of presidential authority. Then, fewer than 100 days away, are midterm elections that will put the ACA front and center; polls show access to health care is a top item on voters’ minds.” [USA Today, 8/2/18]

Abbe Gluck, Yale Law Professor: “If There’s Ever Going To Be A Violation Of The ‘Take Care’ Clause, This Is It.” “This case stands apart from all others, says Abbe Gluck, a Yale University law professor and expert on Article II, because it’s not about the extent to which Trump is “faithfully” implementing a law. Rather Trump has been frank that he is sabotaging the law, she said. ‘That’s what makes this case novel, first of its kind and really important,’ Gluck said. ‘No scholar or court has ever said the president can use his discretion to implement a statute to purposely destroy it…If there’s ever going to be a violation of the ‘take care’ clause, this is it,’ she said.” [NBC News, 8/2/18]

Abbe Gluck: “It Is Impossible To Recall A President Who Has Been As Clear About His Intent To Sabotage A Major Federal Law As This President Has Been About His Intent With Respect To The ACA.” “Historically, making the case for a violation of the take care clause has been a tall order because the executive is often vested with broad discretion to implement the law. But it is impossible to recall a president who has been as clear about his intent to sabotage a major federal law as this president has been about his intent with respect to the ACA.” [Vox, 7/23/18]

And here’s how cities have reported the news:

WCPO Cincinnati: Cincinnati Says Trump Administration Sabotage Is Costing City. “That’s costing the cities more money to pay for services that provide medical care to those who are uninsured or underinsured. In Cincinnati, for example, the city health department subsidizes various health centers with an annual budget of $23 million. The number of uninsured patients who visited those centers already increased by 11 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the lawsuit.” [WCPO Cincinnati, 8/2/18]

Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Citing How Much Sabotage Is Costing City, Leads Suit Against Trump Administration Over Affordable Care Act. Dismantling the Affordable Care Act will directly affect the city’s budget because it will result in more uninsured Americans, [Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein] said. The city provides about $4.3 million a year to Primary One, a federally qualified health center that Klein said has seen 3,000 more uninsured patients in the past year. It also will hit the city’s fire department, which takes about 132,000 medic runs a year. The city seeks to recoup costs from insurance companies if the patient has insurance, typically recovering about 40 to 80 percent of its costs, Klein said. For uninsured patients, the city sends a bill but doesn’t send unpaid bills to collections, he said. For uninsured patients, the recovery drops to an average of 4 percent.” [Columbus Dispatch, 8/2/18]

Columbus Resident, Denise Jacobs, Depends On ACA For Life Supporting Drugs. “Denise Jacobs is one of the people in Columbus that Klein says received help from the ACA. Jacobs was diagnosed with intersitial lung disease, and after many medical treatments and a lung transplant, she now uses anti-rejection drugs to help with her transplant. Jacobs says she’s worried about what the end of Obamacare may do to people like her. ‘Some people like me may have trouble affording their life supporting drugs,’ says Jacobs.” [WOOSU, 8/2/18]

Baltimore Mayor Emphasizes Cost Of Sabotage On Baltimore. “[Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh]  said the Baltimore City Fire Department treated 17,000 people last year who did not have health insurance. ‘As a result, you know, that’s uncompensated care and we’ve got to take care of individuals. We don’t turn people away from our hospitals, we try to take care of them. This is a cost the city cannot afford to bear,’ Pugh said.” [WBAL TV, 8/2/18]

Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Joins Lawsuit, Highlights Burden Of Trump Sabotage On Chicago. “An increase in the number of uninsured or under-insured residents would ‘force Chicago to pay more to operate and subsidize’ public health clinics and put a greater strain and ‘unrecouped costs’ on the Chicago Fire Department’s newly-expanded fleet of 80 ambulances, the city contends.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 8/2/18]