The Trump administration said Monday that it supported a ruling that said that the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, should be struck down, a move that represents a shift in Justice Department policy.
The position further raised concerns among Democrats who said they would oppose the move.
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” three Justice Department lawyers wrote to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, currently considering the case. “[T]he United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”
Politico writes that the outcome will most certainly be challenged in the Supreme Court, regardless of what it is. Should Obamacare be killed by the courts, it would affect over 20 million patients, health care organizations and other groups.
The nine-year-old health law, challenged since its passage, has created new patient protections, transforming the nation’s health system.
The Affordable Care Act saves senior citizens money on their Medicare coverage and prescription drugs. Under it, many Americans can obtain free birth control, mammograms and cholesterol tests. And it allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26, CNN reports.
The Trump administration has not said how it would respond should the law be struck down, as some of the administration’s proposed drug price reforms depend on provisions contained in Obamacare. It previously argued that only the portion of ACA that provided protections for people with pre-existing conditions should not be maintained.
The administration’s current position is a complete shift from the one it held when Jeff Sessions was attorney general, although it has repeatedly vowed to protect people with pre-existing conditions.
A coalition of 21 Democratic states will challenge the lawsuit brought by Texas, saying that the suit is “as dangerous as it is reckless.”
“It threatens the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans across the country — from California to Kentucky and all the way to Maine. The Affordable Care Act is an integral part of our healthcare system. … Because no American should fear losing healthcare, we will defend the ACA every step of the way,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed a similar sentiment, arguing that the administration’s stance amounted to “all-out war on the health care of the American people.”
“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,” she said.