Attorney General Bill Barr has been urging the White House to back off from its current position seeking the complete elimination of the Affordable Care Act in a lawsuit scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court this fall, Fox News is told.
Administration officials told Fox News that Barr met with Vice President Mike Pence, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and individuals from the Domestic Policy Council Monday, two days before the administration’s deadline for altering its position in the case.
The Justice Department’s position has long been that the White House should take a more limited approach to the health care law commonly known as ObamaCare. While some in the administration want to move forward with arguing that the Supreme Court should strike down Obamacare altogether, the DOJ is concerned that this would be a tougher legal argument.
Barr has long-been concerned about the political ramifications of striking down the entire ACA – even more so now with the coronavirus crisis, Fox News is told. Barr wants the White House to keep certain parts of the law intact, but has met stiff resistance from the faction at the White House that wants to make good on Trump’s promise to get rid of ObamaCare.
The case was initially brought by a group of Republican-led states who claimed that after President Trump eliminated the penalty for not having insurance, Obamacare’s individual mandate was no longer attached to Congress’ taxation power and thus became unconstitutional. They claim that because the mandate is an intergral part of the Affordable Care Act, the rest of it cannot survive if the mandate is invalid.
If the Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare in its entirety, it could leave millions of Americans looking for new health insurance options in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled against the government, stating that they are required to pay upward of $12 billion to insurance companies because of ObamaCare's "risk corridor" program. That program limited both profits and losses for insurance companies that offered plans through the online exchange created by the Affordable Care Act by having certain profits go to the Department of Health and Human Services, which in turn would give money to plans that did not bring in profits.
This resulted in the government owing billions more than it took in. A lower court ruled that Congress had repealed the obligation to repay the funds, but the Supreme Court overruled, stating that Congress remains bound to the ObamaCare program.
Fox News' John Roberts contributed to this report.