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11 June 2018, 02:50 | Melissa Porter
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The Trump administration said in a court filing late Thursday that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that people have health insurance and provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions.
Besides urging nullification of the insurance-buying mandate itself, the new government position argued that two of the most popular features of the ACA must fall along with it: the requirement that insurance companies can not deny health insurance to individuals because of existing or pre-existing medical conditions, and the requirement that they can not charge higher insurance premiums based on existing or pre-existing conditions.
But the lawsuit has been filed in a conservative court in Texas, and the Trump administration's refusal to defend key parts of the law has likely boosted the plaintiffs' chances.
The issue became a flash point that helped derail Republican efforts to repeal the law a year ago, with opponents of the party's health bills speaking loudly against weakening protections for the sick and vulnerable.
The president past year issued an executive order directing federal agencies to make it easier to buy two alternatives to Affordable Care Act plans.
"I've long held a position that the federal government should get completely out of the health insurance business", he said. Because the individual mandate is essential to the operation of all of the other ACA provisions, Texas argued, the entire ACA must be invalidated.
Becerra is leading an effort by Democratic attorney generals from others states and the District of Columbia to defend the ACA against that lawsuit.
Margaret Murray, the chief executive of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, which represents plans for low-income and vulnerable populations, said that anyone who has bought individual insurance "and has had so much as a case of asthma in their past should be deeply unsettled by the choices this administration has made". He said he acted after "careful consideration" and with the "approval of the President of the United States".
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.
FILE - Stacy Stanford attends a rally to Support Healthy Utah at the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 5, 2015.
U.S. Department of Justice lawyers launched that attack on part of the ACA Wednesday, by asking a federal court in Texas to let the governments of Texas and other states that oppose the ACA win part of a suit they have filed - but only part of their suit.
Congressional Republicans, who unsuccessfully sought to undo President Barack Obama's signature health care law throughout 2017, added language to the GOP tax bill that ended the controversial tax penalty for those who fail to obtain health care coverage.
The administration does not go as far as the Texas attorney general and his counterparts.
The Trump administration argues that because the new tax law eliminates the penalty for not buying insurance, the Supreme Court's previous ruling permitting the mandate as a tax no longer applies.
That's not so surprising considering more than 52 million non-elderly Americans have health conditions that could have rendered them uninsurable prior to Obamacare, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found. So they're saying that when the mandate penalty goes away next January, the protections for preexisting conditions should go away as well.
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.
In an unusual filing just before 6 p.m. Thursday, when the brief was due, the three career Justice attorneys involved in the case - Joel McElvain, Eric Beckenhauer and Rebecca Kopplin - withdrew.
Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., released a letter with other top Democratic senators demanding the administration reverse the move, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wasted no time blasting out news releases questioning whether Republican candidates agreed with the administration. The lawsuit will be heard by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas. Cortez ScottBishop from royal wedding marches to White House Bishop from royal wedding to march against "America First" policies in DC Supreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits MORE (Va.), Frank Pallone Jr.
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