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“The Justice Department Is Essentially Siding With Those Who Think That Health Insurance Companies Should Be Able to Sign Death Warrants For Sick People”: Trump Administration Launches Unprecedented Attack on Popular ACA Protections

By June 8, 2018No Comments

Last night, the Trump Administration continued its historic sabotage of Americans’ health care when its Department of Justice said it will attack the Affordable Care Act’s popular provisions, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions, as unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court accepts their argument, insurance companies would be able to deny coverage for up to 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, and older Americans and women could once again face significant surcharges because of their or age gender.

Here’s how the shock news is being covered:

Los Angeles Times: Got A Preexisting Condition? The Trump Administration Wants Insurers To Deny You Coverage. “In its latest effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act — and in the process, raise premiums for many Americans — the Trump administration is urging a federal judge in Texas to throw out the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions. In other words, the administration wants insurers to be able to deny coverage to the people most in need of it, or to charge them considerably higher premiums than they’re allowed to charge today. This is jaw-dropping. Even Republicans who’ve complained about Obamacare have been loath to undo the protections for people with preexisting conditions who are not covered by large employers’ health plans. That’s because the public supports them, and unequivocally so.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/8]

New York Times: “The Justice Department Said That The Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions Were Inseparable From The Individual Mandate And Must Also Be Struck Down.” “The Trump administration told a federal court on Thursday that it would no longer defend crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions. Under those provisions of the law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions… The Justice Department said that the protections for people with pre-existing conditions were inseparable from the individual mandate and must also be struck down.” [NYT, 6/7]

Talking Points Memo: Trump’s Midterm Gift To Dems: A War On Pre-Existing Condition Protections. “The Trump administration delivered an early midterms present to Democrats Thursday night when the Justice Department decided to side with 20 GOP states in a lawsuit seeking to gut the core protections of the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions. The long-shot lawsuit argues that because Republicans repealed the ACA’s individual mandate penalty as part of their tax overhaul, all of the remaining law is unconstitutional. The Justice Department, in backing the state’s argument, is seeking to strike down two of Obamacare’s most popular provisions: the rule that insurance companies can’t turn someone away or charge them more based on a pre-existing condition, and the rule that limits how much insurers can charge older patients for their premiums.” [TPM, 6/8]

Bloomberg: Provisions DOJ Is Not Defending “Include Protecting People With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions From Being Charged More Or Being Denied Coverage.” “Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package last year, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and must be ‘struck down,’ attorneys for the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday. Such provisions include protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions from being charged more or being denied coverage.” [Bloomberg, 6/8]

USA Today: “The Brief Filed Thursday Night Is The Latest Attempt By His Administration To Weaken President Barack Obama’s Signature Health-Care Law.” “The Trump administration declared that it will no longer defend the Affordable Care Act from a challenge filed by 20 states because it agrees that the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and that key parts of the act — including the provisions protecting those with pre-existing conditions — are invalid. President Trump has long declared the ACA, also known as Obamacare, to be a ‘disaster’ and the brief filed Thursday night is the latest attempt by his administration to weaken President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.” [USA Today, 6/8]

Huffington Post: Trump Administration Takes New Aim At Obamacare’s Pre-Existing Conditions. “The Trump administration on Thursday officially threw its support behind a new, seemingly far-fetched legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional… The Trump administration’s contempt for Obamacare is no secret. And although the president and his supporters have sometimes said they believe in protections for people with pre-existing conditions, they have repeatedly taken action ― like trying to pass repeal legislation or rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s regulations on what plans must cover ― that seek to undermine or obliterate those protections entirely.” [Huffington Post, 6/7]

Donald Verrilli, Former United States Solicitor General: “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. [St. Louis Dispatch, 6/8]

Nicholas Bagley, Former Department of Justice Attorney: The Administration Decided “Its Dislike For The Affordable Care Act Outweighed Its Respect For The Rule Of Law.”  Bagley, a former Justice Department attorney, said the DOJ has a ‘durable, longstanding, bipartisan commitment’ to defending the laws passed by Congress as long as there is a legitimate ‘non-frivolous’ argument to be made in its defense. ‘The Justice Department has an obligation to defend the law and it has refused to do so because it dislikes this particular law,’ Bagley told USA TODAY. The administration decided its ‘dislike for the Affordable Care Act outweighed its respect for the rule of law.’ Bagley said the brief reveals the ‘depth of institutional decay at the Department of Justice’ and he expressed profound concern about the precedent it sets. [USA Today, 6/8]

Mother Jones: Donald Trump Takes Aim At Pre-Existing Conditions. “The Trump administration’s desperate desire to deprive Americans of health care entered a new phase tonight when Donald Trump personally approved a decision by the Justice Department not to defend Obamacare against state lawsuits… The Justice brief and letter say many other aspects of the law can survive because they can be considered legally distinct from the insurance mandate and such consumer protections as a ban on charging more or refusing coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions.” [Mother Jones, 6/7]

Gizmodo: “If The DOJ Is Successful, Millions Of Americans Could Be Denied The Ability To Buy Health Insurance.” “The U.S. Justice Department made an unusual argument to a federal court last night, claiming that Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions are unconstitutional. Roughly 1 in 4 Americans have pre-existing conditions that would make it difficult to buy insurance without those protections. If the DOJ is successful, millions of American could be denied the ability to buy health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, insurance companies can’t deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, and it puts limits on how much those companies can charge. But the Trump regime wants to change all that, arguing in federal court along with 20 states that protections for pre-existing conditions should be abolished.” [Gizmodo, 6/8]

Associated Press: Justice Department Says Heart Of Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional. “The Trump administration said in a court filing late Thursday that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that people have health insurance and provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions. The decision, announced in a filing in a federal court in Texas, is a rare departure from the Justice Department’s practice of defending federal laws in court.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/8]

Splinter News: The Trump Administration Is Now Trying To Sabotage Obamacare In The Courts. “The GOP tried and failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year, so now it’s trying another strategy: deciding not to fight a legal effort to rule key parts of the law unconstitutional, including the ban on insurers denying coverage or charging an obscene amount to people who have ‘pre-existing conditions’ … Because the Justice Department is essentially siding with those who think that health insurance companies should be able to sign death warrants for sick people, a group of 16 state attorneys general will defend the law in court.” [Splinter News, 6/8]

Mic: Today In Trump’s America: Trump Admin Urges Courts To Throw Out Pre-Existing Condition Protections. “In a response to a lawsuit filed by a group of conservative states that seeks to end the ACA, Trump’s Justice Department said Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate invalidates other key provisions of the heath care law. This includes rules that forbid insurers both from charging sick customers more for coverage or denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Those two provisions are some of the most popular aspects of the ACA, also known as Obamacare. And Republican attempts in 2017 to repeal Obamacare and those provisions were extremely unpopular and led to a backlash against Republican lawmakers.” [Mic, 6/8]