Trump Justice Dept. Asks Court of Appeals to Erase Obamacare

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks to an aide as she leaves a House Democratic meeting in the U.S. Capitol Building on Capitol Hill in Washington Monday

The U.S. Department of Justice said it supports a federal judge's ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be overturned, signaling a major shift in the Trump administration's stance on the Obama-era federal health care law.

The Trump administration has previously argued that parts of the law could stand, but others should be repealed.

Throwing out the law would end healthcare coverage for millions of people - getting rid of publicly subsidized health insurance plans sold on exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and rules letting children stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26.

"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". In a letter, it said the court should affirm a December decision by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth, Texas.

Baker also writes that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) must be "dancing in the streets" over the DOJ's latest lawsuit, as the Democratic Party won back the House of Representatives during the 2018 midterm elections in large part by campaigning on the Republicans' failed efforts to undermine protections for patients with preexisting conditions.

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The case will nearly certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court, teeing up a protracted legal fight that will last well into election season.

O'Connor ruled on a lawsuit brought by a coalition of 20 Republican-led states including Texas, Alabama and Florida, that said a Trump-backed change to the US tax code made the law unconstitutional.

After the Justice Department took that position, federal District Judge Reed O'Connor struck down the entire law and the case is now before a federal appeals court.

The legal argument driving the case remains weak: In post at the Volokh Conspiracy (which is hosted by Reason) Case Western University Law Professor Jonathan Adler, who helped develop an earlier court challenge to the health care law, writes that the decision is "astounding", and that it adopts "a highly strained and implausible approach to severability with little grounding or precedent". Pelosi has accused the Trump administration of jeopardizing the health care of millions with its attempt to scrap Obamacare through the courts. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found remarkably steady enrolment, down only about 300,000 consumers.

Since Trump took office, the federal health insurance market, HealthCare.gov, has lost more than one million customers.

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