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


The filing declares unconstitutional the so-called individual mandate-which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a "tax" if they don't-and calls for several elements of ACA to be invalidated. "The ACA is the law of the land and DOJ should defend it".

The DOJ's central argument is outlined in a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Texas and other Republican-led states, including Utah, sued in February to strike down the entire law because Congress recently repealed a provision that people without health insurance must pay a fine. The first, known as guaranteed issue, requires insurers to offer coverage to everyone regardless of their health background.

As a result, the Texas lawsuit contends, "the country is left with an individual mandate to buy health insurance that lacks any constitutional basis". 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.

About 1.5 million Californians buy coverage through the state's ACA exchange, Covered California, and almost 4 million have joined Medicaid as a result of the program's expansion under the law.

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law.

A group of 20 USA states sued the federal government in February, claiming the law was no longer constitutional after last year's repeal of that penalty that individuals had to pay for not having insurance.

The chances for that argument succeeding are viewed with deep skepticism by legal experts, in part because Congress itself indicated that the rest of ObamaCare could still stand without the mandate when it moved to repeal the tax penalty previous year.

"When Congress reformed the tax system in December 2017, it removed the tax penalty for failing to comply with the mandate", Reyes said. As a result, the entire remainder of the ACA must be upheld, even if the court finds the mandate unconstitutional.

Reyes said Friday that "the individual mandate can not be severed" from the parts of the Affordable Care Act that prohibit insurers from increasing a person's premium rates or denying them coverage based on their health history.

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

FILE - Stacy Stanford attends a rally to Support Healthy Utah at the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

"However, it's not surprising they've chosen not to, because of (their) consistent undermine the ACA", Stanford told the Deseret News.

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

The same report estimates 391,000 Utahns have pre-existing conditions that could affect their coverage eligibility.

"It's, simply put, an attack on the health care that millions of Americans have come to count on, and California, being the most successful state in implementing the Affordable Care Act, stands to lose perhaps more than anyone else".

For instance, existing rules would protect people with pre-existing conditions for twelve months if the ACA were struck down.

"Insurance companies hate uncertainty, and when they face uncertainty they tend to increase premiums and hedge their bets", said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

"If those go together, they make sense", Showalter said.