DOJ Won't Defend Obamacare in Lawsuit Brought by 20 States

The comments from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) come a day after the U.S. Justice Department called Obamacare's individual mandate - which requires individuals to have health insurance or pay a penalty - unconstitutional.

The Trump administration said in a court filing late on Thursday that it would no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, a rare departure from the justice department's practice of defending federal laws in court.

It said that the requirement that people have health insurance - the individual mandate - was unconstitutional and that the entire law, including provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions, should be struck down as a result.

In a brief filed in a federal court in Texas, the department said a tax law signed previous year by President Donald Trump that eliminated penalties for not having health insurance rendered the so-called individual mandate under Obamacare unconstitutional. For instance, it did not go after the creation of health insurance marketplaces, premium subsidies for low-income members and Medicaid expansion.

These consumer protections proved enormously popular with Americans and are among the reasons why efforts to repeal Obamacare in Congress failed a year ago.

In many ways, the lawsuit, filed in February, is a replay of the politically divided litigation that ended with the Supreme Court upholding the health care overhaul in 2012.

On Thursday night, the DOJ declined to defend ObamaCare against a lawsuit filed by Texas and 19 other GOP-led states, arguing that the law is unconstitutional.

The major difference is that the justice department, under Donald Trump, has largely switched sides. "The brief filed by the Trump Administration yesterday represents a shocking break from precedent, and relies on legally dubious, partisan claims to argue against the constitutionality of the current law", they said in a joint statement.

"It's just one more part of the story of trying to politicize the Justice Department", said Jost, a supporter of the health law.

While Justice Department attorneys often advocate for laws they may personally disagree with, those three civil servants instead made a decision to exit from the case, which Bagley described as "almost unheard of".

The mandate in Obamacare was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

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