At issue is a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general on February 26, which charged that Congress' changes to the law in last year's tax bill rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, said he had determined the individual mandate will be unconstitutional when the tax law becomes effective in 2019.
Removing consumer friendly provisions like guaranteed issue, whereby health insurers can not deny coverage to applicants or charge more based on health status, will result in renewed uncertainty in the market as well as push up rates for older and sicker patients, AHIP added. John McCain's dramatic "thumbs down" vote last July, the Trump administration has taken other steps that Obamacare advocates say weaken the law.
Timothy Jost, law professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University in Virginia said the Trump administration is trying to persuade the court to do what it was unable to achieve in Congress a year ago - essentially, repeal key parts of the Obama health law. On May 16, the court granted 17 Democratic attorneys general, led by California, permission to intervene to defend the ACA.
"Initial filings for 2019 plans have shown that, while rates are higher due to the zeroing out of the individual mandate penalty, the market is more steady for most consumers than in previous years, with insurance providers stepping in to serve more consumers in more states", says Grow. As a result, the entire remainder of the ACA must be upheld, even if the court finds the mandate unconstitutional. The rest of the ACA can function without the mandate, the brief says, and should be retained.
Loosening the health law's rules on pre-existing conditions and on charging more to older adults is a key goal for the Trump administration. "The Trump Administration is perpetuating the same cruel vision of higher costs and less coverage that House Republicans voted for in the monstrosity of Trumpcare". 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.
Shortly before the government's court filing Thursday, three career lawyers at the Justice Department withdrew from the case and were replaced by two political appointees, according to court filings.
Democrats are seeking to tie the move into their argument that the Trump administration is "sabotaging" health care and driving up premiums, a key midterm message. That means consumer insurance protections under the law are not valid either, the brief argues.
While the case has to play out from here, the administration's striking position raises the possibility that major parts of the law could be struck down - a year after the Republican Congress failed at attempts to repeal core provisions.
Moreover, if the Trump administration did not want to defend the ACA expressly, it could simply have filed a jurisdictional motion, asserting that the states are not injured by the lack of an individual mandate penalty and that the litigation is not yet timely, as the tax is still in effect.