But Sessions also said that he agrees with the Department of Justice's opinion at the time of the 2012 case, that if the mandate is unconstitutional, it is separate from the ACA's other provisions, except those guaranteeing issuance of coverage in the individual and group market. It argues that because the tax reform bill passed by Congress gets rid of the ACA's "individual mandate" penalty for not having health insurance, the requirement for individuals to have health insurance is void, and because of that, the rest of the law - which they say hinges on the mandate - should be invalidated.
And Tim Hogan, a spokesman for Health Care Voters, a Democratic group looking to mobilize voters on the health care issue, called the decision a "blatant sabotage of the Affordable Care Act" and "something Republican members of Congress will have to explain to their constituents".
Democrats, who were already favored going into this November's election both on the generic ballot and on health care in particular, pounced on the news of the lawsuit, predicting "serious blowback in the midterms" for Republicans.
Democrats "don't have to defend how the ACA works" as they did when President Obama was in the White House, said Robert Blendon, a Harvard expert on healthcare politics.
ROVNER: Well, one of the reasons it's happening - say the insurers, who are filing their rates now for next year - is because they took away this penalty for people who don't have insurance.
The president last fall ended "cost-sharing reduction payments" to insurers that offset discounts that the law promises to lower-income customers in the out-of-pocket costs for ACA health plans.
As many as 130 million adults under age 65 in the USA have pre-existing conditions that could result in their not being able to get insurance coverage in the private market, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Texas and other states that oppose the ACA have responded by filing a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. In it, the states deem the entirety of Obamacare and its regulations invalid. What the Justice Department is arguing is that most of the rest of the law is still OK. Congress, Trump eye new agency to invest overseas Good economic vibes fail to make GOP tax law popular MORE (Mass.), the top three Democrats on the House's health-care committees.More news: Hurricane Aletta strengthens to category 4 off Mexico's Pacific coast
"Just read the brief of the states that intervened to defend the law".
"In refusing to follow bipartisan tradition and defend the ACA in the US federal court system, the Trump administration is nakedly admitting that it wants to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, breaking a promise that the president has made time and again", said Topher Spiro, vice president of health policy at the Center for American Progress.
Weighing in on a Texas challenge to the health law, the Justice Department argued that legally and practically the popular consumer protections can not be separated from the unpopular insurance mandate, which Congress has repealed, effective next year.
The lawsuit could easily go all the way to the Supreme Court before there is a resolution, which could take years.
For years Democrats ran from the health-care issue as though it were a heap of flaming rubble, which, politically speaking, it was.
The Trump administration's move fueled accusations that it was politicizing the Justice Department, which is supposed to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes in court - even if the administration in power does not like them - if reasonable arguments can be made. But in this instance it agrees with the state that the individual mandate and other requirements should be deemed illegitimate as of January 1, 2019. Congress recently repealed a provision that people without health insurance must pay a fine. President Trump has said he wants a repeal and replacement of the law. It will lead to "renewed uncertainty in the individual market" and a "patchwork of requirements in the states" and make it more challenging to offer coverage next year.
These two provisions, along with rules that allow children to stay on their parents' health plan until they are 26 years old, have proven popular with Americans. First, if the administration's position prevails, millions of Americans will lose the protections they thought they had against being denied coverage if they suffer from preexisting conditions.
O'Connor issued an order on May 16 that grants California and other states that support the ACA official intervenor status. "Our coalition of states and partners across the country will fight any effort to strip families of their health insurance", he said.