Trump justice department will stop defending key parts of Obamacare

Three attorneys for the government withdrew from the case just minutes before the Justice Department's filing in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, which signaled an internal rift within the administration over its role in defending USA law, according to University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley. These include a "ban on insurers denying coverage and charging higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions".

The DOJ claimed in court Thursday that the health care law's protections relating to pre-existing conditions are now improper, because the individual mandate was repealed. Typically, the department defends federal laws in court.

The states argue that because Congress recently repealed a provision that people without health insurance must pay a fine, the requirement to have health insurance is unconstitutional because it is no longer considered a tax.

The crux of the argument goes back to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s 2012 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate as a valid use of Congress's taxing power.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

These consumer protections proved enormously popular with Americans and are among the reasons why efforts to repeal Obamacare in Congress failed previous year.

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But it said the rest of the law, including Medicaid expansion, can remain in place. The DOJ in fact sided in large part with the states, arguing that the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be invalidated. "But even if the Justice Department's arguments fail, as they should, the administration's violation of its duty to faithfully execute our nation's laws will still raise the cost of health care for most Americans, undermine the economy, and weaken our democracy for years to come".

Congressional Republicans, who unsuccessfully sought to undo President Barack Obama's signature health care law throughout 2017, added language to the GOP tax bill that ended the controversial tax penalty for those who fail to obtain health care coverage.

Americans are very divided over the Affordable Care Act, but one piece that many support is the law's protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law.

"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost.

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