U.S. Justice Department says Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional

The Trump administration's stance is a rare departure from the Justice Department's practice of defending federal laws in court. While the subsidies would not go away, it is unclear how their amount would be determined if insurers could return to the days before the law of charging higher prices to people with previous medical conditions - or refusing to cover them at all.More recently, the administration is in the midst of rewriting federal rules to make it easier for people to buy two types of insurance that are relatively low-priced because they bypass the ACA's requirements for benefits that health plans sold to individuals and small business must include.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 16 million Americans suffer from depression each year.

The president a year ago issued an executive order directing federal agencies to make it easier to buy two alternatives to Affordable Care Act plans.

The guarantees for coverage for people with pre-existing conditions are among those most valued by the public. The court said that while this "individual mandate" exceeded Congress' power to regulate commerce, it could be upheld as an exercise of Congress' taxing power.

The administration does not go as far as the Texas attorney general and his counterparts. The administration instead called on federal courts to scuttle the health law's protection for people with preexisting medical conditions and its requirement that people buy health coverage. In the tax law, Congress repealed the penalty for people who fail to have health insurance starting in 2019.

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.

"There is no doubt that Republicans are responsible for the rising cost of healthcare premiums and the high likelihood that many will no longer be able to afford basic care at all, and they will face serious blowback in the midterms", the House Democrats' campaign operation said in a statement.

Sessions, in his letter to Ryan, said that the parts of the law restricting the variance in the premiums that could be charged and requiring insurers to cover everyone did hinge on the mandate, because without the mandate, "individuals could wait until they become sick to purchase insurance, thus driving up premiums for everyone else".

While they provide major protections to those with pre-existing conditions, they also have pushed up premiums for those who are young and healthy.

"It's just one more part of the story of trying to politicize the Justice Department", said Jost, a supporter of the health law. "It's important for consumers to know that the Affordable Care Act and the protections it ensures for their coverage are still the law, and they should continue to see their health providers and plan to shop for coverage this fall as they have any other year", says Imholz.

This is a huge deal... the administration's behavior sets a unsafe precedent about the obligation of this and future presidents to follow their constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress....

The 20 states that brought the lawsuit include Texas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Gov. Paul LePage for the State of ME and Gov. Phil Bryant for Mississippi. Under another provision, the community rating provision, insurers were not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history.

Bailey's spokesman Corey Uhden said Friday that he wouldn't comment on the constitutionality of the ACA provisions. "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".

Just hours before the Justice Department officially withdrew from the case, three of the staff attorneys who had been working on it withdrew. Slavitt and others criticized the move as an unprecedented decision by the Justice Department to not defend the rule of law. But Martin S. Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor who was a Justice Department official in the Obama administration, called the mass withdrawal a likely sign of distress. United States has its roots in another legal travesty that these people also celebrated - the 2012 Supreme Court ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius.

The Justice Department took a different tack in a court filing on Thursday. "Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019", AHIP said in a statement.

The Texas case will be decided first by O'Connor, a conservative appointee of President George W. Bush.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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