Trump-Pence Administration Is Acting Despicably Again to Leave Individuals Without the Health Care They Need
The Trump-Pence Administration has just taken (another) unprecedented and extremely harmful step. It is refusing to defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in court. And it is saying that those provisions protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage or being charged more should be struck down.
(Here’s the background: Texas and 19 other states that evidently don’t care about the health of their residents brought a lawsuit against the ACA. They did this even though different challenges have been rejected twice by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even though Congress failed in its attempt to repeal the ACA. And even though the residents of their states – especially women – are benefiting because of the ACA. )
But the Trump-Pence Administration has decided it’s not only going to NOT stand in the way of these states, it is actually going to support their arguments.
First of all, this is unprecedented. The Department of Justice defends laws passed by Congress. As former Solicitor General Don Verrilli said in response to the filing, “The Department of Justice has a duty to defend federal laws when reasonable arguments can be made in defense of the law. This is a sad moment.” Apparently in protest, three career lawyers at DOJ who had been working on the case withdrew from it.
Second, this is extremely harmful to individuals in this country who rely on the protections of the Affordable Care Act to stay healthy and economically secure. Before the ACA, individuals with preexisting conditions were routinely excluded from health insurance coverage altogether, or charged more. Under the ACA’s community rating requirements – the very provisions the Trump Administration is saying must fall – insurers are prohibited from considering health status in determining how much to charge for coverage. This means not only can issuers no longer treat women as a pre-existing condition – which, as we documented, was rampant pre-ACA – but also can’t deny coverage or quote higher premiums to those who are more likely to suffer from certain chronic conditions. For women, that’s key. Women have higher rates of chronic conditions, are more likely to suffer from mental health problems, etc. Over 67 million women nationwide have pre-existing conditions.
But the Trump-Pence Administration doesn’t care. I guess that shouldn’t surprise us, given all of the ways they have tried to undermine the ACA. But it’s still despicable and hopefully the court will see through it and protect our care.