Trump Seeks End to Pre-existing Condition Mandate

MIAMI FL- FEBRUARY 05 Ariel Fernandez sits with Noel Nogues an insurance advisor with Uni Vista Insurance company as he signs up for the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare before the February 15th deadline

MIAMI FL- FEBRUARY 05 Ariel Fernandez sits with Noel Nogues an insurance advisor with Uni Vista Insurance company as he signs up for the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare before the February 15th deadline

The Trump administration's move fueled accusations that it was politicizing the Justice Department, which is supposed to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes in court - even if the administration in power does not like them - if reasonable arguments can be made.

It said that the requirement that people have health insurance - the individual mandate - was unconstitutional and that the entire law, including provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions, should be struck down as a result.

Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package a year ago, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and must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.

A group of 20 US 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 administration's attempt to eliminate protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions is just the latest - and potentially the most damaging - example of the coordinated effort by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, driving up uninsured rates and out-of-pocket costs for Americans", the Democrats said. In the meantime, the existing law will likely remain.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a three-page letter to House and Senate leaders for both parties, saying the Justice Department wouldn't defend the individual mandate or the provisions, from a lawsuit filed by Texas and 19 other states. Last year, Congress repealed the tax associated with the penalty, effective 2019.

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

Americans are very divided over the Affordable Care Act, but one piece that many support is the law's protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

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

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

The mandate in Obamacare was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

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