The Trump administration delivered an early midterms present to Democrats Thursday night when the Justice Department made a decision to side with 20 GOP states in a lawsuit seeking to gut the core protections of the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions.
A coalition of 20 US states sued the federal government in February, claiming the law was no longer constitutional after last year's repeal of the penalty that individuals had to pay for not having insurance.
The Justice Department does not join the 20 states in the lawsuit in saying that this invalidates the entire law.
That includes the requirement that people have health insurance and sections that guarantee access to coverage regardless of any medical conditions, the Associated Press reported. They say the rest of the law is not able to be separated from the mandate, and therefore should also be overturned.More news: G7 Summit far from harmonious
Administration officials at the departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury would not comment, instead pointing to the Justice Department filing, which said other parts of the health law would continue to stand, including its Medicaid expansion covering about 12 million low-income people.
The administration said it agrees with Texas that the so-called individual mandate will be unconstitutional without the fine.
Becerra is leading an effort by Democratic attorney generals from others states and the District of Columbia to defend the ACA against that lawsuit.
What are the ramifications of the Trump administration making these arguments?
Bailey's spokesman Corey Uhden said Friday that he wouldn't comment on the constitutionality of the ACA provisions.More news: Donald Trump calls for end to Russian expulsion from G7 grouping
America's Health Insurance Plans, a major lobby for insurers, said in a statement that although premiums for next year will increase because the individual mandate penalty for not carrying insurance is being zeroed out in 2019, the market has been stabilizing. There is reason to believe the judge may accept the Trump administration's arguments.
Shortly before the government's court filing Thursday, three career lawyers at the Justice Department withdrew from the case and were replaced by two political appointees, according to court filings. The repeal takes effect next year. It also said that provisions shielding people with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums and limiting how much insurers can charge older Americans should fall as well.
The Democrats argued that DOJ's refusal to defend the controversial health care law could eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and "have profound consequences for patients, the health care system and the American economy".
That argument is likely to be lost on consumers, said Robert Blendon, a polling expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - particularly in the heat of an election that will determine control of Congress. That means consumer insurance protections under the law are not valid either, the brief argues.
More recently, the White House and Department of Health and Human Services have been working to make it easier for consumers to buy relatively affordable health plans that exclude some of the benefits the ACA requires.More news: Austria set to shut down 7 mosques, could expel dozens of imams