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The Department of Justice has said it will not legally defend the ACA's restriction on insurers asking about pre-existing health conditions as a determinant for whether to offer coverage and at what rates, saying it believes the provision is unconstitutional.

The Trump administration told a federal court on Thursday that it would no longer defend crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act because they were part of an unconstitutional scheme that required most Americans to carry health insurance. "Their job is to defend federal programs", Bagley says, noting that he has not talked with any of them about the case.

"The DOJ has now acknowledged the problems with the statute".

But the lawsuit has been filed in a conservative court in Texas, and the Trump administration's refusal to defend key parts of the law has likely boosted the plaintiffs' chances.

The brief was filed in Texas v. Azar, a case brought in February by Texas and 19 other Republican-led states.

The Democrats further raised concerns that even if the Justice Department's arguments are unsuccessful, the administration's move could still "raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy and weaken our democracy for years to come".

Lest you think Trump simply has no clue what's going on in this matter, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a letter declaring that he had the blessing of the president to fight against pre-existing condition coverage in court. For starters, it's pretty rare for the DOJ (under any party's control) to come out against an existing US law since it's generally in the business of trying to defend the law's constitutionality.

President Barack Obama's crowning achievement in the domestic policy arena became law in 2010 and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012.

The Trump administration argues that because the new tax law eliminates the penalty for not buying insurance, the Supreme Court's previous ruling permitting the mandate as a tax no longer applies.

The lawsuit argues that with the mandate to purchase insurance still technically in place, but the financial penalty for those who don't abide by it being removed beginning in 2020, Congress' taxing power no longer applies to the provision, leaving it unconstitutional.

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The Justice Department thus claims that the individual mandate is unconstitutional as of January 1.

Besides urging nullification of the insurance-buying mandate itself, the new government position argued that two of the most popular features of the ACA must fall along with it: the requirement that insurance companies can not deny health insurance to individuals because of existing or pre-existing medical conditions, and the requirement that they can not charge higher insurance premiums based on existing or pre-existing conditions.

Without the mandate, insurers have warned of premium price hikes for 2019, and states have already reported increases, as payers fear healthy individuals will flee the ACA market, leaving a higher-cost, riskier population. "Congress has now kicked that flimsy support from beneath the law".

"I favor protecting those in our society with pre-existing conditions, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse", said Mr. Lance, who voted against the GOP replacement bill.

The health care law's core consumer protections, which the president once signaled he supported, have been among the most popular parts of the law and have helped extend coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans.

The same report estimates 391,000 Utahns have pre-existing conditions that could affect their coverage eligibility.

"Democrats destroyed the health care system as we knew when they rammed Obamacare down our throats", he said in an email, "and now all they can talk about is moving to a single-payer health care system". "The pre-existing condition protections are extremely popular on both sides of the aisle". Yet he has granted standing to a group of 17 Democratic-led states that filed a brief on Thursday night arguing for the preservation of Obamacare, and will no doubt give them a fair hearing. "It's a cornerstone of what they do", he says.

"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections", the group said. They routinely defend policies they dislike and make arguments they personally disagree with.

"Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019", the statement said. "Insurers hate uncertainty, and they respond to it by hedging their bets and increasing premiums", says Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.