Trump Administration Court Filing Threatens Coverage for Preexisting Conditions

Sunday, 10 Jun, 2018

Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package past year, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and must be "struck down", attorneys for the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate - requiring Americans to purchase insurance and exacting a yearly financial penalty from those who don't - was not a constitutional use of the Commerce Clause, but that it was a lawful use of Congress' authority to require taxes.

Texas and other Republican-led states are suing to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, while California and other Democrat-led states want to protect the law, the AP reported.

According to the AP, the administration said it agrees that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional without the fine and that language protecting those with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums should also be struck down. The guarantee that people should be able to buy insurance regardless of their health history has been a popular provision of the divisive law - one that President Trump has praised, calling the law's prohibition on denying insurance to sick people "one of the strongest assets" of the ACA in a "60 Minutes" interview before he took office. If the Justice Department's analysis is ultimately persuasive, however, other parts of the law, including Medicaid expansion, could stay in place.

"Initial filings for 2019 plans have shown that, while rates are higher due to the zeroing out of the individual mandate penalty, the market is more steady for most consumers than in previous years, with insurance providers stepping in to serve more consumers in more states", says Grow.

"So far as I can make out, the Trump administration will continue to enforce the ACA while the litigation progresses", Nicholas Bagley, an assistant professor who specializes in health law at the University of Michigan Law School, wrote Friday in a posting on the Incidental Economist site. "That change eliminated the basis for the court's decision to uphold the ACA's constitutionality". The rest of the ACA can function without the mandate, the brief says, and should be retained.

"The Trump administration once again is allowing premiums to go up and middle class Americans to pay more", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a tweet.

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. "The Trump Administration is perpetuating the same cruel vision of higher costs and less coverage that House Republicans voted for in the monstrosity of Trumpcare".

The Justice Department argued the judge should strike down the section of the law that protects people buying insurance from being charged higher premiums due to their health history.

Jost said it's telling that three career Justice Department lawyers refused to support the administration's position.

Many advocates spoke out against the Trump administration's stance on the law's consumer protections.

The takeaway for consumers: This shouldn't deter people from seeking health insurance.

More recently, the White House and Department of Health and Human Services have been working to make it easier for consumers to buy relatively low-priced health plans that exclude some of the benefits the ACA requires.