“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed.”
The Trump administration told a federal appeals court Monday that it agrees with a district court ruling that found all of the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, unconstitutional, opening the door for the law to be completely struck down.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously argued that protections for people with pre-existing conditions could not be defended, but the rest of the law could stand.
But a federal judge in Texas went even further in December, invalidating the entire law. Under new leadership, administration attorneys said they agree with the ruling.
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“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the DOJ wrote in a letter to the 5th U.S. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Attorneys for the administration will not urge the court of appeals to reverse any of U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision.
“On the very first day that the Democratic Majority held the gavel, the House of Representatives voted to intervene against Republicans’ monstrous health care lawsuit to defend people with pre-existing conditions and the health care of all Americans,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “While the Trump Administration broadens its monstrous ambitions from destroying protections for pre-existing conditions to tearing down every last benefit and protection the Affordable Care Act provides, Democrats are fiercely defending the law of the land and protecting all Americans’ health care.”
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The administration’s move rekindles the debate over former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Republican opposition was a factor in the GOP’s 2010 House takeover, and the party regaining the majority in the Senate in 2014. When Trump was elected President in 2016, many thought the stage was set for full repeal.
But the GOP majority ran into fierce opposition to their healthcare reform, with the effort eventually dying in the Senate in 2017. Republicans later gutted the law’s individual mandate as part of Trump’s landmark tax legislation.
Blue-state attorneys defending the law argue that despite zeroing out the mandate, the provision is still on the books. Moreover, they argue that Congress clearly intended to keep the rest of the law in place when they passed the tax legislation.
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