Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package a year ago, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and must be "struck down", attorneys for the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday.
The Justice Department said that also nullifies two other major provisions of Obamacare linked to the individual mandate, including one barring insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
The administration said it agrees with Texas that the so-called individual mandate will be unconstitutional without the fine. For instance, it did not go after the creation of health insurance marketplaces, premium subsidies for low-income members and Medicaid expansion.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and other House Democrats condemned the Trump administration Friday after the Justice Department announced it would not defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
In many ways, the lawsuit, filed in February, is a replay of the politically divided litigation that ended with the United States supreme court upholding the healthcare overhaul in 2012. In the new suit, California is leading a group of Democratically led states in defending the law.
The lawsuit led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argued an earlier case against the ACA made it clear that tax penalty was an essential component of the law, and when the Supreme Court upheld the ACA the ruling stated "without the tax penalty, the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance was an unconstitutional exercise of federal power".
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Donald Verrilli Jr., President Barack Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer who defended the law, called the decision "a sad moment".
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.
Jost said it's telling that three career Justice Department lawyers refused to support the administration's position.
Department officials believe because the Obamacare mandate was repealed, but is still in place- the mandate is no longer a tax.
While Justice Department attorneys often advocate for laws they may personally disagree with, those three civil servants instead chose to exit from the case, which Bagley described as "almost unheard of".