The Department of Justice has formally asked an appeals court to throw out the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, a drastic change from the Trump administration’s previous stance that only certain provisions of the healthcare law should be tossed.
The issue comes from a lawsuit launched by 20 Republican state attorneys general and GOP governors in early 2018. A federal judge found the ACA unconstitutional in late December, though it remains the law of the land while the case is in the appeals process. In an extraordinary step, the DOJ, which is typically tasked with defending laws of the nation, declared it would not defend the ACA in the case.
Now, the DOJ has formally declared its opposition to the healthcare law and its numerous provisions that have helped expand health insurance coverage to tens of millions of Americans.
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for July. The case is likely to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, according to The New York Times.
The uncertainty over the healthcare law has led to turmoil in the stock market for the healthcare sector, despite many of the largest companies in the space reporting higher earnings. If the healthcare law is overturned, the repercussions across the economy would be immediate. In addition, millions of Americans could lose their health insurance coverage.
The case hinges on the elimination of the individual mandate penalty, which was done away in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. By reducing the tax penalty of not having health insurance to zero, as the Act did, the entire ACA was ruled unconstitutional.