Trump Sides With Texas, Won't Defend Obamacare in Court

Desiree Burns
June 9, 2018

The Trump administration, in a late-Thursday court filing, stated that it would no longer defend provisions of the health care law, known as Obamacare, that require people to have health insurance and guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions, the Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, the administration said it agrees that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional without the fine and that language protecting those with medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums should also be struck down.

But in this instance it agrees with the state that the individual mandate and other requirements should be deemed illegitimate as of January 1, 2019. 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.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday it won't defend the Affordable Care Act against a legal challenge of its constitutionality.

Timothy Jost, law professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University in Virginia said the Trump administration is trying to persuade the court to do what it was unable to achieve in Congress previous year - essentially, repeal key parts of the Obama health law.

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In many ways, the lawsuit, filed in February, is a replay of the politically divided litigation that ended with the USA supreme court upholding the healthcare overhaul in 2012.

The Justice Department is tasked with defending federal statutes.

The major difference is that the Justice Department under President Donald Trump has largely switched sides.

The mandate introduced with Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

The chances for that argument succeeding are viewed with deep skepticism by legal experts, in part because Congress itself indicated that the rest of ObamaCare could still stand without the mandate when it moved to repeal the tax penalty a year ago.

While Justice Department attorneys often advocate for laws they may personally disagree with, those three civil servants instead made a decision to exit from the case, which Bagley described as "almost unheard of".

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