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Cities Sue Trump over ‘Relentless Campaign’ to Gut Obamacare

Trump Mueller Manafort T.S. Ellis

The cities of Chicago, Columbus, Baltimore, and Cincinnati are suing President Donald Trump and his administration for what they claim has been “a relentless campaign to sabotage and, ultimately, to nullify” the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

The administration has successfully gutted much of the Act so far. After President Trump removed the penalty for failure to comply with Obamacare’s mandate requiring people to have health insurance, states sued claiming that the mandate was no longer constitutional because it wasn’t tied to a lawful tax. The administration responded to the lawsuit by agreeing that the mandate was no longer constitutional. The government also agreed that provisions in Obamacare that require insurance companies to issue plans to people regardless of pre-existing conditions, and for prices to be equal for everyone in a given territory regardless of their health conditions are directly connected to this, and as a result they have to go as well.

The cities, who sued along with individuals in Charlottesville, Virginia, claim that the administration, by agreeing with attacks on Obamacare, failed to uphold their duty to defend the law. They also cite an April 2018 rule enacted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that removed certain Obamacare protections, claiming that it is unlawful.

“The Trump Administration’s actions are also an affront to the rule of law: to our constitutional system, under which Congress enacts laws and the President faithfully implements
them,” the complaint says. “The Administration’s actions raise questions that go to the heart of our structure of government: whether the executive branch must ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ U.S. Const. art. II, § 3, and whether the Constitution therefore prohibits the President and his appointees from wielding executive power to destroy a duly-enacted law.”

The cities claimed that the president and the administration are violating the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, which requires the president to make sure the laws of land are upheld, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which governs federal agencies.

The APA argument alleges that the Trump administration failed to respond to comments that certain provisions of the rule enacted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were “arbitrary and capricious.” The cities note that a court may set aside or hold unlawful an action taken by an agency that is found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” Some of the provisions that the complaint specifies are those “allowing insurance agents, brokers, and insurers to select their own third-party auditors,” and “depriving taxpayers of advance premium tax credits for failing to reconcile credits for prior years on their tax returns without direct notification of their ineligibility.”

The cities also claim that the Trump administration’s actions have harmed Americans by resulting in increased health insurance premiums, resulting in greater difficulty for people to get health insurance, and an increase in those who are uninsured.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told Law&Crime, ‘“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending litigation,” but Health Secretary Alex Azar spoke about the Affordable Care Act on Fox Business Thursday morning.

“The Affordable Care Act is still broken. It does not work because of its own structure,” Azar said. “The premium baseline from which they’re operating is entirely too high and unaffordable for so many people, but under President Trump we’ve brought stabilization there that at least is bringing some relief to individuals.”

The lawsuit was brought with the assistance of Democracy Forward, an organization that “scrutinizes Executive Branch activity,” according to their website. Their Executive Director, Anne Harkavy, said in a statement, “President Trump said himself that he wanted the Affordable Care Act to explode, and his administration has been busy laying the dynamite and lighting the fuse.”

Note: This article has been updated.

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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