Justice Department says heart of health law unconstitutional

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.

The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

The long-shot lawsuit argues that because Republicans repealed the ACA's individual mandate penalty as part of their tax overhaul, all of the remaining law is unconstitutional.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a Thursday letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, said while the administration has traditionally defended the constitutionality of such provisions, he has decided "this is a rare care where the proper course is to forgo defense". The second, called community rating, prevents carriers from charging more to those who are sick or had conditions in the past.

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.

Removing consumer friendly provisions like guaranteed issue, whereby health insurers can not deny coverage to applicants or charge more based on health status, will result in renewed uncertainty in the market as well as push up rates for older and sicker patients, AHIP added. However, these practices also allowed insurers to keep rates lower for those who are young and healthy. But under the GOP tax bill signed into law last December, tax penalties for people without insurance were eliminated.

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"This is yet another malicious Republican attack that will undermine the stability of our healthcare system, and could once again mean that you or a loved one are denied healthcare because of a pre-existing condition", said Meredith Kelly, the communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

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

It backs up their contention that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional.

Democrats are seeking to tie the move into their argument that the Trump administration is "sabotaging" health care and driving up premiums, a key midterm message.

The president previous year issued an executive order directing federal agencies to make it easier to buy two alternatives to Affordable Care Act plans.

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