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

Trump justice department will stop defending key parts of Obamacare

And though the federal government will apparently no longer defend a pillar of the law, a group of left-leaning states have stepped in to back it in court. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the lawyers' withdrawal had been a department decision, declining to specify whether the lawyers had personally objected to continuing on the case.

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.

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.

The administration called on the court to declare the provisions that guarantee coverage to be invalid beginning on January 1, 2019, when the mandate penalty goes away.

Weighing in on a Texas challenge to the health law, the Justice Department argued that legally and practically the popular consumer protections can not be separated from the unpopular insurance mandate, which Congress has repealed, effective next year.

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. Those include Congress' decision to repeal the individual mandate penalty and rules expected soon from the administration that will expand the market for lower cost and short-term policies that won't have to follow all the ACA rules. The DOJ in fact sided in large part with the states, arguing that the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be invalidated.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed it's "because otherwise individuals could wait until they become sick to purchase insurance, thus driving up premiums for everyone else".

Pelosi and other supporters of the ACA were quick to condemn the move. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., a spokesman for his party on health care.

"This is yet another malicious Republican attack that will undermine the stability of our healthcare system, and could once again mean that you or a loved one are denied healthcare because of a pre-existing condition", said Meredith Kelly, the communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). If the court ends up siding with the Trump administration and the Republican states that brought the suit, the consequences would be significant, Perlman said.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged President Donald Trump to reverse the decision.

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The DOJ claimed in court Thursday that the health care law's protections relating to pre-existing conditions are now improper, because the individual mandate was repealed. Without the tax penalty, they argue, "the Court should hold that the ACA is unlawful and enjoin its operation".

According to a 2016 analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 52 million Americans under the age of 65 could find their access to health insurance at risk because of a wide range of pre-existing conditions, from diabetes to cancer to pregnancy.

People who buy their own insurance, usually because they are self-employed or don't get coverage through their jobs or the government, will be vulnerable. States such as California will take up the law's defense, and the legal battle will continue.

Yesterday, the Trump administration's Department of Justice dropped a bombshell in a rural Texas federal courthouse.

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.

"Texans have known all along that Obamacare is unlawful and a divided Supreme Court's approval rested exclusively on the flimsy support of Congress' authority to tax", said Paxton when the suit was filed.

The president last fall ended "cost-sharing reduction payments" to insurers that offset discounts that the law promises to lower-income customers in the out-of-pocket costs for ACA health plans.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the main trade group for the industry, immediately denounced this prospect. Experts believe that could entice healthier people to exit the marketplace in favor of less-expensive, short-term plans, leaving the marketplace with a sicker population that could drive insurance costs higher.

Three career lawyers in the department's civil division withdrew from the case earlier Thursday and did not sign the brief. "The White House needs to hear that the American people will not stand for this", Murphy said. These are lawyers who have made arguments they personally disagreed with countless times.

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