Justice Department says heart of health law unconstitutional

Share

The U.S. Justice Department says it will no longer defend major parts of the Affordable Care Act in court.

In a brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department sided with Texas and a coalition of other Republican-led states that had filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare.

The lawsuit led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argued an earlier case against the ACA made it clear that tax penalty was an essential component of the law, and when the Supreme Court upheld the ACA the ruling stated "without the tax penalty, the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance was an unconstitutional exercise of federal power".

The DOJ believes pre-existing conditions and the individual mandate must go hand-in-hand, claiming that part of the law is now unconstitutional.

But it says the rest of the law, including Medicaid expansion, can remain in place.

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.

Recreational Marijuana Bill Passes In Canadian Senate
It also amends federal law to explicitly remove industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. "We're looking at it". Because of that, marijuana companies have several financial obstacles, including the inability to use banks.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

Donald Verrilli Jr, Barack Obama's top supreme court lawyer who defended the law, called the decision "a sad moment".

The Trump administration is arguing parts of Obamacare are now unconstitutional.

Shortly before the government's court filing, three career lawyers at the Justice Department withdrew from the case and were replaced by two political appointees, according to court filings. "But even if the Justice Department's arguments fail, as they should, the administration's violation of its duty to faithfully execute our nation's laws will still raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy, and weaken our democracy for years to come". 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.

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

"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost.

Share