If a federal judge in Texas agrees with the Department of Justice's (DOJ) move to not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans could lose their healthcare coverage or face higher premiums for having preexisting conditions, a legal professor wrote Friday in a blog post for The Commonwealth Fund.
That would mean insurers would no longer be subject to "guaranteed issue" (a requirement that they sell policies to anybody, regardless of medical status) or "community rating" (a prohibition on charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions).
But Justice Department lawyers do argue that with no penalty for not having coverage, the federal government can not make health insurers cover sick consumers or prohibit insurers from charging sick consumers higher premiums, as was routinely done before the health care law was implemented.
"The administration's attempt to eliminate protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions is just the latest - and potentially the most damaging - example of the coordinated effort by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, driving up uninsured rates and out-of-pocket costs for Americans", the Democrats said.
Democrats, who were already favored going into this November's election both on the generic ballot and on health care in particular, pounced on the news of the lawsuit, predicting "serious blowback in the midterms" for Republicans.
"You can't pull the rug out from underneath people with pre-existing conditions", O'Donnell said. Health insurers have for years been raising premiums, complaining about uncertainty and withdrawing from the business of selling individual insurance plans, and more changes could further destabilize the market.
These sections of the law, along with the mandate that insurers provide comprehensive coverage, are the bedrock of Obamacare's protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
California and 15 other states also filed a brief Thursday to intervene and defend the ACA and its consumer protections. Hasn't the Supreme Court already found the individual mandate as constitutional?
Republicans seem determined not only to make American health care more inefficient and cruel in every way they can think of, but to do it while making themselves as unpopular as possible.
"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections", America's Health Insurance Plans said in a statement. In addition, the government doesn't go so far as Texas and its fellow plaintiffs in arguing that the entire Affordable Care Act and the regulations issued under it are now invalid.
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Also, 39 percent of registered voters in today's NBC/WSJ said they are enthusiastic or comfortable with a candidate seeking to repeal Obamacare, compared to 49 percent who said they have reservations or were very uncomfortable with a candidate seeking to repeal the health care law.
Recent polling indicates that this could be a political victor for Democrats attempting to recapture at least one chamber of Congress.
The Trump administration's stance is a rare departure from the Justice Department's practice of defending federal laws in court.
Republicans are divided between conservatives who had vowed to eliminate the law and moderates, some in tough races, who want to preserve the popular protections for people who are sick. "Their job is to defend federal programs", Bagley says, noting that he has not talked with any of them about the case.
Rep. Tom MacArthur, New Jersey Republican, included a provision in the House bill that would have required insurers to cover sicker Americans but allowed states to waive the prohibition on charging them higher premiums.
The Trump administration's move fueled accusations that it was politicizing the Justice Department, which is supposed to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes in court - even if the administration in power does not like them - if reasonable arguments can be made.
The Senate's top Democrats fired off a letter to President Trump on Friday to denounce the decision and urged Trump's Justice Department to reverse course.
These two provisions, along with rules that allow children to stay on their parents' health plan until they are 26 years old, have proven popular with Americans.
Regardless of the federal court's ruling-which observers said may come by late summer or early fall-New York state law now protects consumers from such actions by insurers.
Mr. King said Congress should put in place the fixes that Republicans have offered since 2010, such as expansion of tax-advantaged health savings accounts and the sale of insurance across state lines.