The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in a late-night brief filed Thursday, arguing that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco and other Justice Department officials argued in the brief that the requirement for individuals to buy insurance is no longer valid after the penalty for noncompliance was axed by Congress in 2017.
“The individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the act,” the Justice Department said, adding that because it can’t be separated, the entire act should be axed.
“And Congress’s 2017 amendment does not alter the severability analysis because it left intact the critical statutory findings about the interconnectedness of these provisions — findings that were and remain the functional equivalent of an inseverability clause.”
The brief also asks the Supreme Court to overturn the pre-existing condition rules that forbid insurers from turning away customers or charging them more due to factors like age and health status, NBC News reported.
“Obamacare has been an unlawful failure and further illustrates the need to focus on patient care,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Washington Post after the brief was filed.
“The American people deserve for Congress to work on a bipartisan basis with the President to provide quality, affordable care.”
Deere also said Obamacare “limits choice, forces Americans to purchase unaffordable plans, and restricts patients with high-risk preexisting conditions from accessing the doctors and hospitals they need,” according to NBC.
Democrats were not happy with the brief filing, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
“They would live their lives caught in a vice between Donald Trump’s twin legacies: His failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus and his heartless crusade to take health care protections away from American families,” he said during a media conference.
“It’s cruel, it’s heartless, it’s callous.”
Republicans have long viewed the law as excessive government instruction, and Trump has criticized its costs.
The Trump administration was joined by Texas and 17 other states in its challenge to the law.
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