Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a legal brief in support of a Texas lawsuit that would kill one of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): the one that ensures people with past medical problems can get affordable health insurance. It’s the latest twist in the Trump administration’s unrelenting campaign to sabotage “Obamacare,” even if that means pricing sick Americans out of health coverage altogether.
The DOJ’s intervention raised eyebrows since it marked a further politicization of a federal agency whose mission is to enforce laws passed by Congress. Instead, it is trying to unravel the law that President Trump and his party failed repeatedly to “repeal and replace.” It’s an undemocratic run around the legislative branch, an attempt by President Trump to win in court what he could not win in Congress.
Generally speaking, if you have a preexisting condition — a chronic condition such as asthma, a past cancer diagnosis, or pregnancy — and are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private group insurance, you are protected financially from the costs of those conditions. But prior to the ACA, those in the individual, or non-group, market could be denied coverage for being sick or pregnant. In fact, 18 percent of individual market applicants were denied coverage before the ACA and many more did not apply for coverage or were offered it only at unaffordable prices. Today, roughly 27 percent of adults (52 million people)not eligible for Medicare have preexisting conditions — these people would be the most at risk if these protections are thrown out.