NY braces itself against Justice Department's assertion it won't defend ACA

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Prior to the ACA, insurers often rejected applicants who were ill or had pre-existing conditions, or only offered them limited coverage. O'Connor was appointed by George W. Bush and recently ruled that health care providers can not be forced to perform procedures that conflict with their religious beliefs.

Republicans have been trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act - a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's legacy - since it was enacted in 2010 without any Republican votes.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday - before the Trump administration decision was unveiled - found health care was the top issue for all voters and that it's an issue where Democrats have an overwhelming advantage.

"I have always favored coverage for preexisting conditions and will continue to do so", Lance said, adding he would urge the administration to back off their new legal stance. And because a scant majority of the Supreme Court had said it was Congress's taxing powers that saved the ACA from being unconstitutional, that protection was no longer there. If the Justice Department's analysis is ultimately persuasive, however, other parts of the law, including Medicaid expansion, could stay in place.

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.

At issue is a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general on February 26, which charged that Congress' changes to the law in last year's tax bill rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional.

Democrats, who were already favored going into this November's election both on the generic ballot and on health care in particular, pounced on the news of the lawsuit, predicting "serious blowback in the midterms" for Republicans.

Sessions, in his letter to Ryan, said that the parts of the law restricting the variance in the premiums that could be charged and requiring insurers to cover everyone did hinge on the mandate, because without the mandate, "individuals could wait until they become sick to purchase insurance, thus driving up premiums for everyone else".

Protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions are connected with the individual mandate, according to the Justice Department, meaning that they must also be struck down.

Stacy Stanford, policy analyst for the Utah Health Policy Project, a think tank and advocacy organization that is also a federal health exchange enrollment hub, said "the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and therefore the administration should be defending it".

This is a huge deal... the administration's behavior sets a unsafe precedent about the obligation of this and future presidents to follow their constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress....

"Tonight, as the president and his administration launch their most risky sabotage effort yet, we are seeing just how far Republicans are willing to go in their quest to undermine the American health care system", said Brad Woodhouse, campaign director of Protect Our Care, an advocacy group staffed with many Obama administration alums. Under another provision, the community rating provision, insurers were not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history.

FILE - Stacy Stanford attends a rally to Support Healthy Utah at the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 5, 2015. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. He recently ruled that 16 other states and the District of Columbia could join in the case formally to defend the ACA against the challenge.

Just hours before the Justice Department officially withdrew from the case, three of the staff attorneys who had been working on it withdrew.

Sessions said he agreed with the plaintiffs that without the mandate, the decision in the 2012 National Federation of Independent Business vs. former Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius, is the proper course. But Martin S. Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor who was a Justice Department official in the Obama administration, called the mass withdrawal a likely sign of distress. Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., New Jersey, Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott, Virginia, and Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal, Massachusetts, said the move by the DOJ breaks with the department's tradition of defending federal laws, regardless of whether it supports the underlying policies. Judge Reed O'Connor was named to the court by President George W. Bush and has ruled against other aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

Ironically, the existence of that financial penalty in the law was what had saved the individual insurance mandate from being struck down by the Supreme Court six years ago.

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