U.S. Justice Department says Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional

U.S. Justice Department says Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional

Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package previous year, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and must be "struck down", attorneys for the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday.

Under these provisions of the law, insurance companies can not deny coverage or charge higher rates to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

But in this instance it agrees with the state that the individual mandate and other requirements should be deemed illegitimate as of January 1, 2019.

In a brief filed in a federal court in Texas, the department said a tax law signed previous year by President Donald Trump that eliminated penalties for not having health insurance rendered the so-called individual mandate under Obamacare unconstitutional.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday it won't defend the Affordable Care Act against a legal challenge of its constitutionality. They say the rest of the law is not able to be separated from the mandate, and therefore should also be overturned.

In many ways, the lawsuit, filed in February, is a replay of the politically divided litigation that ended with the U.S. supreme court upholding the healthcare overhaul in 2012.

They further cast the administration's brief, which was filed in federal court Thursday, as an "attack" on both the rule of law and the stability of the United States' health care system.

The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and almost did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

Donald Verrilli Jr, Barack Obama's top supreme court lawyer who defended the law, called the decision "a sad moment".

The mandate introduced with Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage.

"The individual mandate thus still exists, but it will no longer be fairly possible to describe it as a tax because it will no longer generate any revenue", the Justice Department said in its brief on Thursday.

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law.

Insurers are now finalizing their premium requests for 2019, and Jost said the Justice Department filing may prompt jittery carriers to seek higher rates.

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