Justice Department Wants to Throw Out the Whole Affordable Care Act

After getting trounced in 2018 on health care issues, you’d think the Trump administration and Republicans would know well enough to let sleeping dogs lie. Apparently not.

Instead, the Justice Department bizarrely announced in a legal filing that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and should be thrown out. In political terms, the filing is an absolute gift to 2020 Democratic candidates. But in the short-term, it’s a terrifying reminder that Republicans are still determined to erode access to health care in the United States — even if it means throwing a minimum of 20 million people off their insurance with no realistic way to regain that coverage.

This situation happened because a series of Republican states filed suit, claiming the individual mandate was unconstitutional. The Trump administration initially refused to defend the law — to be clear, one of the Department of Justice’s jobs is defending valid laws when they’re challenged in court — and a group of Democratic states stepped up.

A judge, however, sided with the GOP. This set up the case for appeal to the Supreme Court, which may not be friendly to the legislation. Between the stolen seat offered up to Trump as an inauguration present and the beer-swilling sexual assailant most recently confirmed to the bench, the court is packed with Trump appointees. And repealing the Affordable Care Act has been a hobbyhorse since he took office.

Intriguingly, this filing isn’t the result of unanimous opinion on the part of the Trump administration. The Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t share this extreme view of the Affordable Care Act. With the constant shakeups, confusion, incompetent appointees and more, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Cabinet doesn’t have unity on this major issue. But it is telling. Individuals within an administration may disagree and sometimes have different policy priorities. But this is a very basic issue, and Trump can’t even wrangle his Cabinet members into agreement.

The Justice Department’s filing means it will not defend the law during the appeals process. And while Trump appointees had initially indicated they felt some segments were not legal, Attorney General William Barr is inclined to throw out the entire law.

The implications for Americans could be huge. The Affordable Care Act made it possible for people who had previously been “uninsurable” to get covered. It expanded access to low-income people. And it enacted equity protections, so plans actually covered basic health care needs, such as annual exams, pregnancy care and mental health services. While the Affordable Care Act wasn’t perfect, for many it was lifesaving.

For now, the fate of the Affordable Care Act remains in the hands of the legal process, which can be extremely slow. As the issue works its way through the courts, expect to see grandstanding on both sides — as well as jockeying from 2020 Democratic hopefuls, eager to position themselves in the health care space.

It should be noted that the Affordable Care Act has successfully survived a number of legal challenges from vindictive Republicans. And attempts at undermining it in Congress have been dramatic failures. So as the case drags on, the law may outlast some of those who swore to undo it.

Photo credit: Joe Cicak/Getty Images

73 comments

Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E2 days ago

brian f
Then I guess YOU are to blame for everything you accuse the Democrats of doing wrong YOU VOTED FOR MS. CLINTON in 2016 !!!!!

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 days ago

Justice Barr helped make this possible. He's doing trump's bidding, and he's made ithat even more obvious today with an announcement he made a few hours ago.

Just learned that Barr and trump have scheduled a press conference to take place tomorrow, Holy Thursday, at which time they will discuss the Mueller report. Barr has shared the report with trump and his attorneys, but he hasn't shared it with congress - checks and balances be damned. We are going to hear what trump wants us to hear, and this is a slap in the face to our democracy.

Time to revolt. To contact William Barr's office via email, use this link:

https://www.justice.gov/contact-us

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Brian F
Brian F2 days ago

SR Do you really think that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi who refuses to support Medicare for all or the Green New Deal, are much better? Most of the Democrats are crooks like the Republicans, and take millions from corporations and Wall Street, according to opensecrets.org. The Democrats still have an unfair super delegate rule which is cheating. The only honest politicians are Bernie Sanders, AOC and Tulsi Gabbard. Your only Trump is a crook rant is getting old. Most of the Democrats are crooks like Trump.

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Susanne R
Susanne R3 days ago

Paul B. - (Continued...)
Do you really believe that trump is a savior of some sort. He's a sick man!

Do you really believe that his approval ratings are climbing? Well, they're not. And you accuse ME of being victimized by fake news! Didn't you read or hear about the correction that had to be issued after Lou Dobbs shared that misinformation about trump's approval ratings? Dobbs either lied or willfully misled his viewers, but the damage was done. Trump jumped on it like a cat on a mouse. He tweeted it instantaneously, and he never corrected the error. His followers are still reading and believing it. The "truth" means nothing to trump. Please read the following:

"Fox News figure inflates Trump’s approval far beyond what Fox News polls show"
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/11/fox-news-host-inflates-trumps-approval-far-beyond-what-fox-news-polls-show/?utm_term=.8b3311e1d8dc

"The Trump-Fox Symbiosis of Stupid Continues With an Extremely Wrong Poll:
Ol' Lou Dobbs is back again."
https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a27112228/donald-trump-poll-fox-news-lou-dobbs/

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Susanne R
Susanne R3 days ago

Paul B. - You are looking through the eyes of love. What I can't get past is that:

-Trump lied about President Obama, is trying to do away with his presidential legacy, blames everything that goes wrong in his own administration on President Obama, etc.
-He has no respect for women. Fortunately, you're not a woman, but there must be women in your life that you care about. Look into his personal and political record on women and women's rights. Why isn't the Violence Against Women Act being passed?
-Please don't express your outrage at the way trump is treated. It's the same example that he sets. He gives everyone he doesn't like a nasty nickname. He tries to destroy their reputation. If you're not aware of that, you're watching the wrong news outlets.
-Yes, I do think that way. I hate the way he disrespects people. I hate that he's a racist. I hate that he knows less about the presidency than the average middle-school student. He only knows what he can use to his advantage to increase his wealth. He only hires people who can protect him. If they fail to do so, they're out of a job. What I love is MY COUNTRY, and I won't be silent when it comes to someone who's destroying it.

Who is the "we" to whom you refer in your comment? And does it all come down to the economy? Well, you should credit President Obama for pulling this country out of the mess that occurred during George Bush's presidency. Do you really believe that trump is a savior of

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E3 days ago

paul b
Some people carry private insurance and also go to private clinics and use privately owned and run facilities like MRI, some surgeries , anything that MAY not be covered as quickly as some want.
As Annabel stated.
paul, I suggest YOU do some research on single payer insurance. IF you just had the basic insurance where I live, you keep the physician you have always had, you are admitted to hospital just like anyone else, you can have surgery, physio, x-ray, CT scans, MRI if needed, all medications while in hospital AND any dressings needed, etc. ALL with NO co-pay or money exchanging hands when some are most vulnerable.
I have additional insurance coverage from my professional organization.
It covers private rooms, all my medication,(outside hospital as well) eye care, hearing aides if needed, medical equipment not covered by MSP, private care if needed at home, massage therapy and much much more.
The bottom line is that someone with undiagnosed diseases like diabetes, cardiac, hypertension, broken bones, emergency surgery ,maternity, accidents, and planned things like knee or hip replacement are covered without fear of going bankrupt or not getting treatment in favour of food and shelter like so many uninsured in the US.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini3 days ago

Paul B
Sorry, my brain is slow this morning!

...and pay for extra nursing if wanted....

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini4 days ago

Paul B
Left out, getting a private room in a hospital.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini4 days ago

Paul B
To answer your question, people take out private insurance so they can choose their own physician and to avoid waiting lists.

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Brian F
Brian F4 days ago

Paul B I think you better start watching the Bernie Sanders rallies across the country. Bernie Sanders is having bigger crowds than any other candidate, and Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the country. Most people support progressive policies like Medicare for all, free colleges, a $15.00 minimum wage, marijuana legalization, and a 70% tax rate on the rich. The country has moved left and embraced Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is unstoppable and will crush Trump in 2020. No Republican or corporate Democrat can stand up to Bernie Sanders, who will be our next president.

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