William Barr’s latest move as Trump’s attorney general is intended to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) but also may destroy the GOP.
Last December a federal district court judge issued a ruling saying the Obamacare individual mandate is now unconstitutional because of a provision of the 2017 GOP tax scam law. At the time we reported that the decision could give Democrats control of the Senate in 2020.
And now Barr’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a motion supporting the district court opinion and calling for ObamaCare to be struck down in its entirety.
By siding with the federal district court that had ruled the individual mandate is unconstitutional the DOJ has taken a new position that will create new controversies and uncertainties in America’s healthcare system. It will also be very unpopular.
Previously the DOJ was focused on eliminating mandatory coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a position that helped give Democrats control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.
But now, under Barr, the federal government’s position has changed for the worse.
In a letter, shown below, to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals the DOJ states it “has determined that the district court’s judgement should be affirmed,” meaning it will not appeal the judge’s ruling declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional.
The DOJ’s letter in the affordable care act case in the Fifth Circuit.
The Justice Department is apparently all in on defending Judge O’Connor’s (deeply problematic) ruling invalidating the _entire_ Affordable Care Act.
So much for DOJ’s obligation to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes when reasonable grounds exist for doing so… https://t.co/v31R8YWNPu
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) March 26, 2019
“Because the U.S. is not urging the any portion of the district court’s judgement be reversed, the government intends to file a brief on the appellees’ schedule.”
“A ruling striking down the entire ACA would upend major parts of the health care system.”
“Millions of people would lose their health care coverage, and a host of seemingly unrelated policies — including new experiments in how Medicare pays for care and an entire class of prescription drugs — would also go out the window.”
While this DOJ action will not immediately end the Affordable Care Act, it is one step closer to its demise.
Most legal experts say the lawsuit, brought by 20 Republicans, mostly attorneys general, will not succeed and will be overturned on appeal.
House Democrats May Need to Save ObamaCare
When they took control of the House in January House Democrats moved immediately to file a court motion defending ObamaCare from the district court opinion and the Republican lawsuit attempting to kill the law that provides health insurance to millions of Americans. We reported:
“In their first hours in control of the House of Representatives, Democrats filed a motion to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit that threatens to bring down the Affordable Care Act.”
“A lawless act of partisan idiocy”
“A Texas judge’s decision to strike down ObamaCare as unconstitutional was a lawless act of partisan idiocy. The ridiculous opinion will undoubtedly be reversed upon appeal. In the meantime the mere prospect of overturning the popular healthcare law, and taking health insurance away from 20 million people, is hurting the Republican Party.”
The DOJ Move Could Create a Blue Wave Election in 2020
“For Democrats this decision could be the gift that keeps on giving. The case will stretch into 2020, and probably beyond, due to appeals. Which means that in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections healthcare will again be the most important issue. In fact providing affordable healthcare to all Americans may be the defining issue of the entire election season in 2020.”
This new move by Trump’s DOJ is certain to be a major issue in next year’s elections and will certainly contribute to what is expected to be another Big Blue Wave that might possibly give Democrats control of both houses of Congress and the presidency.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.