On Monday the administration of President Donald Trump officially adopted a much more aggressive stance toward the Affordable Care Act, asking the courts to throw out the legislation entirely, according to HuffPost.
Previously, Trump had signaled that he wanted the courts to toss out just parts of the law, but now it seems he is siding with a lawsuit that seeks to do away with the ACA in its entirety. According to the outlet, it is a proposed shift in policy that would upend the lives of millions by removing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, gutting tax credits for lower-income and middle-class insurance buyers, and wiping away expanded Medicaid programs at the state level that currently serve the poor.
All told, the proposed changes would deprive millions of Americans of even the thinnest of health insurance protection provided by the legislation commonly known as Obamacare.
“The Act is now part of the plumbing of the health-care system,” said Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan who specializes in health care law.
“The notion that you could gut the entire ACA and not wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people is insane.”
The effects of such a repeal are hard to measure. Beyond stripping millions of health care protections, wiping out the ACA in its entirety could also affect how calorie and nutrition counts are calculated and published in menus, how Medicare pays hospitals, as well as numerous other details of tangential American health care concerns that are now ingrained into the fabric of daily life.
It’s a big shift for Trump, who promised during his most recent State of the Union address just two months ago “to protect patients with pre-existing conditions,” a promise he has repeatedly made dating back to the 2016 campaign. Despite those promises, the Trump administration and the then-Republican-controlled Congress spent a good deal of 2017 trying to outright repeal Obamacare, shifting to the use of regulatory powers to undercut it instead when repeal failed.
Now, the administration has sided with 20 Republican state officials who brought a lawsuit seeking to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out as unconstitutional. That is a rare position to take, as traditionally, the executive branch defends federal laws in court, even if the current administration doesn’t particularly like them.
While the lawsuit has a long way to go, a U.S. District Court judge in Texas has already agreed with the plaintiffs that the entire law should be tossed out, calling the “individual mandate” or penalty paid by people without insurance unconstitutional. And now, the office the President of the United States has also sided with the plaintiffs, shocking many observers.
“It’s a complete bombshell,” said Abbe Gluck, a law professor at Yale. “The administration went from taking the position that only some of the insurance reforms should be struck down to now saying the entire ACA ― Medicaid expansion and all ― should go down with this ship…it’s a total 180, with drastic human consequences.”