Trump Administration Argues the ACA is Unconstitutional

The Trump Administration is arguing that a federal appeals court should strike down the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) as unconstitutional, including the popular provisions to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, the expansion of Medicaid, and the ability for young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26 years old.

In early 2018, a coalition of state attorney generals filed a lawsuit arguing that the elimination of the fine for not having health insurance, which was included in the new tax plan, made the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The Trump Administration, instead of following past precedent and defending current law, sided with the coalition of attorney generals that laws prohibiting insurers from denying people health insurance or charging higher premiums is unconstitutional. However, this week the Trump administration went a step further to argue that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Healthcare was a large voting issue in the 2018 midterm elections; an AP VoteCast survey determined that almost 4 in 10 Democratic voters found healthcare as the most important voting issue among a list of key issues. A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found that 55% of Americans want to see the healthcare system improved, not repealed or replaced.

Donald Trump tweeted this week that, “the Republican Party will become ‘The Party of Healthcare!’.” However, the president is arguing for a complete strike down of the ACA, without offering a replacement plan or safety net for the estimated 20 million people that would find themselves uninsured if the federal appeals court finds the ACA unconstitutional.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand responded to the Trump Administration’s argument that the ACA is unconstitutional by saying that if Trump, “wants to have a fight on healthcare, then it’s a fight we’re willing to have. And it’s a fight he is going to lose.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats have been “dealing with health care constantly. The public attention has been on the Mueller report, but we have been focused on healthcare.”

Trump has decided to renew his focus on the attacking the Affordable Care Act as Republican Senators and Trump head towards the 2020 election. Many Democrats credit Republican attacks on healthcare as one of the reasons the Democrats won back the House in 2018. Andrew Bates, the spokesman for American Bridge argued that “for Trump to bring this back up is traumatic, and it shines a real light on what the contrast is going to be between him and whoever the Democratic nominee is.”

In 2017, the Republicans unsuccessfully attempted to repeal the ACA. Further, five Supreme Court Justices that upheld the Affordable Care Act are still on the bench, constituting a majority.

Media Resources: Vox 3/27/19; TIME 3/27/19; AP News 11/7/18

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