WEATHER AUTHORITY : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Trump court move on Obamacare bolsters Democrats' midterm message

The Trump administration's decision not to defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act could deal Democrats a si...

Posted: Jun 11, 2018 5:04 PM
Updated: Jun 11, 2018 5:04 PM

The Trump administration's decision not to defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act could deal Democrats a sizable win going into the midterm elections, handing a party already prepared to run on health care a cudgel to use against vulnerable Republicans.

Voters, both in interviews and a series of polls, have consistently said that health care is the issue they care the most about going into the midterm elections and Democratic candidates have responded by making it the cornerstone of their attacks on Republicans.

On Thursday, the Trump administration clearly outlined their position on key -- and popular -- provisions in the Affordable Care Act, telling a court that the law should be invalidated and that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. In the legal filing, the Department of Justice argues in favor of invalidating protections for those Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Just prior to the Trump administration's announcement that it would no longer defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in an ongoing case brought by Texas and other states, several career Justice Department attorneys withdrew from the case.

"It's pretty simple: new legal position, new team. It's not uncommon to make this kind of switch," a department spokesperson said Thursday night.

But Marty Lederman, who worked in the Obama Justice Department and now teaches at Georgetown Law School, says the move was unprecedented.

"Perhaps such a mass withdrawal of DOJ attorneys from a case has happened before," he wrote in a post for the legal blog Balkinization on Friday morning. "If so, however, I am not aware of it."

It's not that attorneys withdraw from cases, but rather that so many did so at one time, according to Lederman.

Lederman also wrote that attorneys from the federal programs section of the department's Civil Division often make "very aggressive and unlikely-to-prevail arguments in defense of federal programs and statutes" and that the division is not "timid." He added that lawyers can request to be reassigned from a particular case when they have moral or other "serious qualms" about the government's actions, but they "rarely" seek the court's permission to withdraw.

"For three such respected DOJ attorneys to do so simultaneously -- just hours before a major filing, and without replacement by any other career lawyers other than a rookie -- is simply flabbergasting."

And it didn't take long for Democrats to respond to the Trump administration's new posture.

"The Trump administration is coming after the Affordable Care Act's protections for people with pre-existing conditions and it's time for us to draw a hard line," Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat up for reelection in 2018 said in a fundraising letter to supporters on Friday. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm ready to fight this with both fists up."

Andy Kim, a former Obama administration staffer, is making coverage of pre-existing conditions and access to affordable health care a key part of his campaign against Rep. Tom MacArthur in Central New Jersey, the author of the Obamacare repeal bill that passed the House but failed in the Senate last year.

"I urge Congressman MacArthur publicly demands that President Trump defends protections for pre-existing conditions and upholds the ACA immediately, so our premiums and medical bills don't skyrocket even further," Kim said in a statement responding to Thursday's decision.

And Tim Hogan, a spokesman for Health Care Voters, a Democratic group looking to mobilize voters on the health care issue, called the decision a "blatant sabotage of the Affordable Care Act" and "something Republican members of Congress will have to explain to their constituents."

The ACA now requires insurance companies to offer coverage to everyone regardless of their medical history. Prior to the ACA, insurers often rejected applicants who were ill or had pre-existing conditions, or only offered them limited coverage. Under another provision, the community rating provision, insurers were not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history.

These two provisions, along with rules that allow children to stay on their parents' health plan until they are 26 years old, have proven popular with Americans.

Republicans have tried to blunt this tactic with a revival of what launched them into power in 2010: By arguing Democrats are hellbent on taking over all aspects of the health care system.

On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the administration's decision in prepared remarks to a conservative summit in Denver.

"And the Department of Justice is ending the lawlessness that too often took place under the previous administration," Sessions said, according to the prepared remarks.

"Late last night, we informed a Texas court that we would not be defending the constitutionality of the Obamacare mandate," he continued. "It is a rare step but a necessary one when it comes to this monumental and historic governmental move in the American health care system."

As the debate over the Trump administration's decision raged, the National Republican Campaign Committee largely ignored the issue, instead noting that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said a range of health care options are "on the table" if Democrats take back the House in November.

Democrats don't mind this comparison, in part because polls have shown that not only is health care a top issue for many voters, but it's an issue that helps Democrats.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday -- before the Trump administration decision was unveiled -- found health care was the top issue for all voters and that it's an issue where Democrats have an overwhelming advantage.

Among those who said health care was the most important issue, 21% prefer GOP control of Congress, 67% Democratic control.

Also, 39% of registered voters in today's NBC/WSJ said they are enthusiastic or comfortable with a candidate seeking to repeal Obamacare, compared to 49% who said they have reservations or were very uncomfortable with a candidate seeking to repeal the health care law.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67649

Reported Deaths: 1912
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5656118
DeSoto368031
Harrison253036
Madison244368
Rankin229235
Jackson228843
Jones191659
Forrest182056
Washington168942
Lee147941
Lauderdale141192
Neshoba128692
Lamar122614
Oktibbeha112739
Bolivar111834
Warren109533
Lowndes108538
Panola106214
Sunflower105425
Scott100320
Lafayette98317
Copiah95728
Leflore94765
Pike93836
Holmes90049
Grenada84921
Yazoo83312
Lincoln83241
Pontotoc8308
Simpson80330
Monroe80155
Leake79025
Wayne77421
Coahoma77213
Tate73629
Marshall7019
Marion68420
Union64316
Adams62925
Winston62316
Covington62113
George5895
Pearl River55439
Newton54311
Tallahatchie53011
Attala52325
Walthall50120
Chickasaw47019
Noxubee45912
Alcorn4345
Tishomingo4216
Calhoun4209
Prentiss41710
Claiborne40913
Smith40613
Clay39714
Hancock39514
Jasper3889
Itawamba37510
Tippah36713
Tunica3517
Clarke32626
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3228
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29411
Quitman2701
Carroll26111
Greene25512
Perry2437
Amite2356
Webster23512
Kemper23414
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21113
Stone2055
Sharkey1995
Jefferson1957
Benton1431
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena262
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 92°
Columbus
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 88°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Starkville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather