On Monday the Department of Justice took a step to increase its pressure on Obamacare by supporting a federal judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be tossed. The DOJ’s earlier position maintained that only parts of the health care law needed to go. The Constitution Center reports:
A Justice Department legal filing late Monday night to support a federal court decision killing all of Obamacare has put that debate suddenly back in the news.
The one-page letter to the clerk of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals informed the court the Justice Department now believes Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision in the Northern District of Texas from December 2018 should be affirmed, and it will file a brief in the case.
O’Connor, a federal judge based in Fort Worth, issued a decision on December 14, 2018 in Texas v. United States that invalidated the Affordable Care Act’s remaining parts. The decision held that without a fine related to Obamacare’s individual mandate, which was eliminated by Congress in 2017, the rest of the health care law’s features could not survive a constitutional challenge. O’Connor has put implementing that decision on hold until federal appeals courts could address the inevitable challenges to his ruling.
In June 2018, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the Justice Department opposed two provisions in the Affordable Care Act about mandatory insurance coverage of persons with pre-existing medical conditions, along with the individual mandate. While the Justice Department would not defend the law in court, it also believed other parts of the ACA such as its health care exchanges and Medicaid expansion were “severable” and could survive a constitutional challenge.
Monday night’s filing indicated the Justice Department had changed its opinion on those issues after Attorney General William Barr took over the department.
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