October 19, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Barr urges the Trump administration to cancel calls to completely topple Obamacare

Attorney General to congressman: Let courts do their job (2019)

With Wednesday’s deadline to make any changes to his looming argument, Barr filed his case in a room with Vice President Mike Pence, White House adviser Pat Cipollone, member of the Domestic Policy Council, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and several other officials. The meeting ended without a decision and it was not immediately unclear whether any changes in the Trump administration’s position would emerge.

Barr and other key advisers have been opposed to hardline positions for some time, warning that it could have major political implications if a comprehensive health care law appears to be in jeopardy when voters head for elections in November.

According to four sources familiar with the meeting, Barr argued to modify the stance of the current administration to protect the legal sections, rather than fully supporting the lawsuit filed by a group of Republicans. As it stands now, the Trump administration’s position is trying to cancel the entire Affordable Care Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 and is commonly known as Obamacare.

Barr and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar argued against supporting the cancellation of the law in full, engaging in fierce debate about this with then White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and policy officials allied with him, CNN reported last year. But Barr and others have recently brought an added dimension to their efforts, highlighting the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the country. If the judges accept Trump’s administrative position, his decision could cause major disruption to the health care of millions of Americans and cause uninsured rates to surge.
The Affordable Care Act is expected to function as an important safety net for millions of people who have lost their jobs and work-based health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. If the unemployment rate reaches 15%, nearly 17.7 million Americans can lose their employer-sponsored policies, according to a the Urban Institute report recently. More than 8 million people can register with Medicaid, especially in countries that are expanding programs for more low-income adults under the health care law. Also, more than 4 million people can get protection through the exchange of the Affordable Care Act or other personal policies, leaving more than 5 million uninsured, the report found.

Even before the pandemic, more than 11.4 million people registered for Obamacare coverage for 2020 and around 12.5 million were enrolled in Medicaid expansion.

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Trump’s domestic policy aides have rejected any changes in the current Trump administration’s legal arguments, arguing that the legal position must move forward without change because Republicans have been campaigning to revoke Obamacare for a decade. The aides dismissed the possibility of new political impacts, and pushed Barr back at Monday’s meeting.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

This split has been a long-running battle within the government, but has a new sense of urgency because the government faces a deadline on Wednesday if it wants to change its argument.

The current administration believes that individual insurance requirements are unconstitutional, and because the mandate is bound by other legal provisions, the Affordable Care Act must fall. If the administration will withdraw from the absolute position, it is likely to submit a submission to the Supreme Court within the next 48 hours, based on the current court briefing schedule for the parties to the duel. If not, the administrative brief will not mature to the high court until June.

Barr has long supported the government position, which has shifted many times since the lawsuit began in early 2018. The administration believes that only two main provisions protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions will fall, but the rest of the law can remain. In a dramatic reversal soon after Barr became attorney general in early 2019, the Department of Justice said the Affordable Care Act had to be canceled. A few months later, the government argued before a federal appeals court that the law could only be beaten because it applied to a coalition of Republican-led countries that brought challenges.

The argument that all laws must be destroyed may already be a difficult one to make the majority of the Supreme Court who have twice rejected broad-scale challenges.

After a decade, the Affordable Care Act has affected almost every aspect of the health care system. That requires that all Americans get protection and create a market to buy insurance. It also expands Medicaid for poor people and diabetics who are protected, cancer patients and others with pre-existing conditions of being denied coverage or charging higher premiums.

The current Supreme Court dispute began when Texas and other Republican-led states sued after the Republican-led Congress in 2017 cut tax penalties for those who failed to get insurance to zero. Because individual mandates are no longer bound by certain tax penalties, states argue, it is unconstitutional. They also said that because individual mandates were related to many ACA provisions, canceling them had to impose all laws, including protection for people with pre-existing conditions.

On the other side are California and the states led by Democrats and the US House which are now controlled by Democrats. The Affordable Care Act remains in force through litigation.

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The Supreme Court agreed earlier this year to take the ACA dispute. The case is likely to be heard in autumn, but a decision will not be expected until 2021, after the November presidential election.

This case will mark the third time that the Supreme Court took a major ACA dispute. In 2012, the judges upheld the law, by 5-4 votes, with Chief Justice John Roberts voting with four liberal judges over the differences of opinion of four conservatives. Roberts bases his opinion on the taxation strength of Congress.

This story has been updated to include additional background information and reflects that the Department of Justice declined to comment.