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The Journal Gazette

Friday, June 08, 2018 1:00 am

DOJ will not defend health care law

Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration said Thursday night that it will not defend the Affordable Care Act against the latest legal challenge to its constitutionality – a dramatic break from the executive branch's tradition of arguing to uphold existing statutes and a land mine for health insurance changes the ACA brought about.

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states who brought the suit. They contend that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance will no longer be constitutional once a tax penalty for not complying ends in January and that, as a result, consumer insurance protections under the law are not valid, either.

The three-page letter to Pelosi from Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledges that the decision not to defend an existing law deviates from history but contends that it is not unprecedented.

The bold swipe at the ACA puts the law on far more wobbly legal footing in the case, which is being heard by a GOP-appointed judge who has in other recent cases ruled against more minor aspects.

The Justice brief and letter say many other aspects of the law can survive until January because they can be considered legally distinct from the insurance mandate.