COLUMBIA, Mo. — Last night, President Trump’s Department of Justice announced that it would side with a group of Republican attorneys general in arguing that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, and thus the law should be repealed in its entirety. Josh Hawley is a signer and strong supporter of the Republicans’ lawsuit, which would spike the cost of care, impose an age tax on older Americans, and allow insurers to “flat-out deny Americans insurance based on their health status.”
As a reminder, analysis shows that Republican efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act could cause premiums to rise by double digits next year, leaving nearly 8 million fewer people insured. Despite these concerns, Hawley has said nothing about what he would do to help diffuse costs and guarantee protection for those who need it.
“What does Josh Hawley say to the thousands of Missourians that are going to be kicked off of their health insurance and those with pre-existing conditions who will be denied coverage because of his actions?”
Brooke Goren, Missouri Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director
The Trump administration argued in a court brief filed on Thursday that Obamacare’s protections for preexisting conditions should be ruled unconstitutional, opening up another front in the White House’s crusade to roll back the law’s core insurance reforms.
The brief was filed in a case brought by several conservative states, led by Texas, which argued that because Republicans in Congress repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty in their tax bill, the mandate is now unconstitutional — and so is the rest of the law.
…If the Trump administration’s argument were to prevail, insurers could once again be able to flat-out deny Americans insurance based on their health status. No amount of federal subsidies would protect them.
…Nevertheless, the brief sends a strong signal that the Trump administration believes the central insurance reforms in the ACA should be totally undone. The administration has, of course, taken regulatory steps to undermine those rules — such as expanding short-term plans that don’t have to comply with the reforms — but it is now seeking a different avenue, outside of Congress, to end them for good.
…Some plans are already hiking premiums by 30 percent or more after the uncertainty introduced by the Trump administration and the GOP Congress. More uncertainty engendered by this lawsuit and the administration’s position is not going to help.
The Trump administration on Thursday officially threw its support behind a new, seemingly far-fetched legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional.
…That would mean insurers would no longer be subject to “guaranteed issue” (a requirement that they sell policies to anybody, regardless of medical status) or “community rating” (a prohibition on charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions).
…The move could be particularly important in two key Senate races. The original brief in the lawsuit included, as co-counsel, a pair of state attorneys general: Josh Hawley of Missouri and Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia.
…But polls have shown repeal to be exceedingly unpopular, even among Republican voters. A chance to remind voters that Hawley and Morrisey support it ― that the two GOP officials have signed a legal brief that would end protections for pre-existing conditions ― could help keep those two seats in Democratic hands.
The Trump administration is urging a federal court to dismantle two of the most popular provisions of Obamacare, but to delay taking such drastic action until after the midterm elections this fall.
…The administration’s evening filing says it agrees with states bringing the suit that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, as are two of the law’s major insurance provisions meant to protect people with expensive medical conditions. With the filing, the Trump administration is asking the courts to wipe out protections that many congressional Republicans were wary of eliminating in their failed efforts to repeal Obamacare.
…The Trump administration has taken numerous steps to dismantle the law — eliminating a key subsidy, paring back outreach and marketing funds, and promoting health plans that don’t meet the law’s robust requirements.