End The Entire Affordable Care Act, Justice Department Says
With Meghna Chakrabarti
The Trump administration moves to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act. We look at the implications of a full repeal.
Want more from the show? You can get messages right from our hosts (and more opportunities to engage with the show) sent directly to your inbox with the On Point newsletter. Subscribe here.
Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News. (@jrovner)
Nicholas Bagley, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School. Contributor to The Incidental Economist. Former attorney with the appellate staff in the civil division at the U.S. Department of Justice. (@nicholas_bagley)
Joseph Antos, Wilson H. Taylor Resident Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Former assistant director for health and human resources at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Former health adviser to the CBO from 2007 to 2013. (@joeantos)
From The Reading List
Kaiser Health News: “Trump Administration And Democrats Return Health Law To Political Center Stage” — “‘The Mueller Report’ is so last week’s news. Health care has returned in force as the dominant political issue in Washington, reflecting what voters have been telling pollsters for the past year.
“The Trump administration moved Monday night to get more in line with President Donald Trump’s voter base by endorsing a Texas federal judge’s December opinion that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down as unconstitutional.
“After he arrived at the Capitol for lunch with Republican senators Tuesday, Trump endorsed the change, suggesting it will usher in Republican priorities instead. ‘The Republican Party will soon be known as the “party of health care!”‘ he told reporters.
“Less than two hours later, House Democrats unveiled their proposals to not only protect the health law, but also expand it — including extending help paying premiums and other costs to families higher up the income scale than those now eligible and reinstating cuts made by the administration for outreach to help people sign up for coverage.”
New York Times: “Opinion: Why Trump’s New Push to Kill Obamacare Is So Alarming” — “Attorney General William Barr was supposed to be a voice of reason in the Trump administration. An old Washington hand, he had the stature and the backbone to protect the Justice Department from a White House that often seems to disdain the rule of law.
“Turns out it isn’t so.
“In a stunning two-sentence letter to a federal appeals court, the Justice Department announced on Monday that it would now seek the invalidation of the entire Affordable Care Act — every last one of its thousands of provisions.
“The irresponsibility of this new legal position is hard to overstate. It’s a shocking dereliction of the Justice Department’s duty, embraced by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, to defend acts of Congress if any plausible argument can be made in their defense.”
Washington Post: “Trump administration asks court to completely invalidate Obama’s Affordable Care Act” — “In a significant shift, the Justice Department now says that it backs a full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act, the signature Obama-era health law.
“It presented its position in a legal filing Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, where an appeal is pending in a case challenging the measure’s constitutionality. A federal judge in Texas ruled in December that the law’s individual mandate “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power” and further found that the remaining portions of the law are void. He based his judgment on changes to the nation’s tax laws made by congressional Republicans in 2017.
“At first, the Trump administration had not gone as far, arguing in a brief last June that the penalty for not buying insurance was legally distinct from other provisions of the law, which could still stand. Justice Department officials said there were grounds only to strike down the law’s consumer protections, including those for people with preexisting health conditions.”
CNN: “House Democratic leaders to unveil health bill, minus Medicare for All” — “The House Democrats’ divide over health care will be on full display Tuesday, when leaders plan to fulfill their midterm election promise by rolling out comprehensive legislation to strengthen the Affordable Care Act.
“The bill aims to protect people with pre-existing conditions, as well as lower health care costs and reverse the Trump administration’s moves to weaken Obamacare. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with several committee chairs and freshman lawmakers, are set to unveil the legislation at a public event designed to mark the ninth anniversary of the signing of the landmark health care law.
“What’s not in the bill? Anything resembling a universal ‘Medicare for All’ plan, a version of which was introduced by Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Debbie Dingell of Michigan last month and has more than 100 co-sponsors.”
New York Times: “Opinion: The Ticking Time Bomb Under Obamacare” — “Yes, the Democrats reclaimed the House. But you should not assume that your health care coverage is now safe. The biggest threat is President Trump himself: His administration has been relentlessly assaulting the Affordable Care Act for two years, and that threat has not abated. Democrats may have made significant electoral gains by running on the protection of the pre-existing-conditions guarantee to insurance, but Republicans apparently aren’t listening. The president and his party remain focused on taking health care away.
“The administration has instituted administrative rules and guidance letters intended to undermine the insurance markets, trick the healthy into buying junk plans, and leave the less healthy with unaffordable premiums. It has also succeeded in reducing enrollment, making access to health care harder for the poor and immigrant populations and, for the first time in a decade, raising the number of uninsured children. To add insult to injury, it refuses to defend the A.C.A. in a ludicrous lawsuit in Texas — in which it now appears the judge may very well strike down a large part of the law, including the ban on pre-existing conditions. The entire A.C.A. is at stake. Don’t be fooled by the president’s claims that these problems are inherent in Obamacare.”
Wall Street Journal: “Affordable Care Act Sign-Ups Total 11.4 Million for This Year” — “About 11.4 million people signed up for coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges for this year, according to a final tally released Monday, amid sharp debates in Washington over the future of health coverage.
“Total plan selections on the ACA’s federal and state exchanges fell by about 300,000 from the previous year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the health law.
“Most of the declines came in states that relied on platforms overseen by the federal government, which has cut most of its advertising and outreach budget.”
Allison Pohle produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.