WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s decision to stop defending in court the Obama health law’s popular protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions could prove risky for Republicans in the midterm elections — and nudge premiums even higher.

The Justice Department said in a court filing late Thursday that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, beginning with the unpopular requirement that people carry health insurance, but also including widely-supported provisions that guarantee access for people with medical problems and limit what insurers can charge older, sicker adults.

Friday, the insurance industry warned in stark terms of “harm that would come to millions of Americans” if such protections are struck down, causing premiums “to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients.”

Weighing in on a Texas challenge to the health law, the Justice Department argued that legally and practically the popular consumer protections cannot be separated from the unpopular insurance mandate, which Congress has repealed, effective next year.

That argument is likely to be lost on consumers, said Robert Blendon, a polling expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health — particularly in the heat of an election that will determine control of Congress.

“The pre-existing condition thing is what the ads will be run on,” said Blendon. “Pre-existing conditions have gotten to be an issue that people walking on the streets understand … it’s very emotional.”

Some Democratic politicians didn’t waste much time.

“Democrats will not allow Republicans to get away with quietly trying to strip away pre-existing conditions protections for millions of Americans through a legal backdoor,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., a spokesman for his party on health care.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York urged President Donald Trump to reverse the decision.

Administration officials at the departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury would …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News


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