WASHINGTON (AP) – Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.
The latest government filing came on the same day the government reported that nearly half a million people who lost health insurance during the economic shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 received coverage through HealthCare.gov.
The virus is not mentioned in the legal instruction of the administration.
Some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage, and protection for people with pre-existing health problems would also be compromised if the court consents to the administration in a case that will not be heard before the fall.
In the Supreme Court case, Texas and other conservative-led states allege that the ACA was declared essentially unconstitutional after Congress passed tax laws in 2017 that eliminated the unpopular fines of the law for not having health insurance, but required that virtually all Americans have coverage.
After not withdrawing “Obamacare” in 2017 when Republicans completely controlled Congress, President Donald Trump has placed the weight of his administration behind the legal challenge.
If the health insurance requirement is declared invalid, “it necessarily follows that the rest of the ACA must also fall,” Advocate General Noel Francisco wrote Thursday.
The Trump administration’s views of which parts of the ACA can be retained or replaced if the law is overturned have changed over time. But in legal arguments, it has always been in favor of getting rid of “Obamacare” provisions that prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against people based on their medical history.
Nevertheless, Trump has repeatedly assured Americans that people with pre-existing conditions are still protected. Neither the White House nor Congressional Republicans have specified how.
The new enrollments for health coverage come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The figures are in part because they do not include notifications from states that run their own health insurance marketplaces. Large states such as California and New York do not count in federal statistics.
An estimated 27 million people have lost job-based coverage as a result of layoffs, and it’s unclear what they’ll fall back to, if anything. People who lose employer health care are eligible for a special application period for subsidized plans under the Obama era law. Many may also be eligible for Medicaid.
The Trump administration has been criticized for not doing as much as states like California to publicize these readily available backups. In response, government officials say they have updated the HealthCare.gov website to make it easier for consumers to find information about special sign-up periods.
The government’s Thursday report found that about 487,000 people signed up with HealthCare.gov after losing their workplace coverage this year. That is an increase of 46% compared to the same period last year.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.