The Trump administration on Monday told a federal appeals court that the whole Affordable Care Act must be abolished, setting for a clash between President Trump and 2020 Democratic candidates embracing “Medicare for All” system.
Justice Department attorneys filed a letter with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans asking to effectively strike down the ACA in its entirety, agreeing with the landmark ruling made by a federal judge in Texas last year.
"The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed. Because the United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed, the government intends to file a brief on the appellees’ schedule," the filing read.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled last year that Obamacare is no longer constitutional because the tax reform – as enacted by Republicans –eliminated the health care law’s penalty for not having health insurance.
The administration initially insisted that only certain parts of the law should be invalidated, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. But the latest filing moved on from the earlier position and embraces the total overturn of the law.
The filing noted that the government will file a brief in support of the Texas-led coalition of states that are trying to overturn the health care law, given that “the United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed,” the Washington Post reported.
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal,” Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, told the newspaper.
A victory for the government would mean that millions of people could potentially lose their health care and causing particular disruption within the industry as no replacement system would be put in place.
Over 11 million reportedly signed up for Obamacare coverage this year, it was announced this week. That’s just slightly less than compared to 2018. At the same time, however, the number of new customers fell by more than 500,000, a worrying sign for the backers of the system.
The move to support efforts to strike down the ACA will undoubtedly pit Trump and Democratic presidential candidates, such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, who are increasingly embracing abolishing private insurers and support the creation of a single-payer system.
At the same time, the latest effort to completely invalidate the law may prove Congressional Democrats right, who warned during the midterm election last year that Republicans are trying to repeal the law, including the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, while Republicans denied such plans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.