Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Mass Attorney General Appeals Affordable Care Act Ruling With Multi-state Coalition

Mass Attorney General Appeals Affordable Care Act Ruling With Multi-state Coalition

Colorado Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser, who is set to be sworn in next week, said joining the California-led coalition to defend the ACA will be his first official act.

House Democrats are putting defense of the law at the center of their agenda.

The case could end up being decided by the Supreme Court, which on two prior occasions has issued decisions that kept much of Obamacare intact.

Attorney General Herring and the coalition will continue to defend the law against this unfortunate decision that could wreak havoc on the entire American healthcare system and risk lives in every state.

O'Connor ruled last month that the sweeping health care law must fall because Congress had eliminated the individual mandate penalty by reducing it to $0 starting this year.

The health law remains in place while the lawsuit continues before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The tax cut legislation passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in 2017 reduced that tax penalty to zero.

Midterm voters also put Democrats in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is slated to vote next week on whether to intervene in the ACA lawsuit, as The Hill reported. Sign-ups in the 39 HealthCare.gov states were about 5 percent lower than past year, despite the administration's deep cuts to the advertising budget and Trump's ongoing disdain for the program.

"That is, I think, why we saw the bump", he said, "those last-minute people signing up afterward".

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U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor's ruling last month that Obamacare is unconstitutional threw the future of the health care law - and coverage for roughly 20 million Americans - into jeopardy.

Becerra argued the decision lacked clarity and requested that an appeal of the district court's December 14 opinion be heard by the Fifth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over northern Texas.

"Take a look at the amicus briefs that have been filed already in this case", Becerra said, citing support form provider and consumer advocacy groups.

Democrats are using the vote to press their Republican counterparts, telling them either to agree to defend the ACA or to face the political consequences of declining to support the ACA's popular provisions, including protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Although Judge O'Connor was told by the House that the challenging states and the Trump Administration are opposed to the House's entry, the new filing in Fort Worth made a series of arguments that the legislative chamber has both an explicit legal right to do so, but also has a backup argument that it should be let into the case as a matter of judicial discretion.

The case involves a lawsuit filed a year ago by almost a score of Republican attorneys general, who argued that without the penalty the ACA's insurance mandate was no longer constitutional because it no longer grew out of Congress' taxing authority.

"Our goal is simple: to stand up for the law of the land - the Affordable Care Act - in order to keep healthcare affordable and accessible for millions of Americans", Becerra said.

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