The Trump administration is taking steps to gut the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which could put millions of Americans at risk of losing healthcare.
In a one-page filing on Monday night, the Department of Justice said it would support a Texas judge’s controversial December ruling the ACA is unconstitutional. The Trump administration originally took the position that only part of the law should be struck down — specifically, protections for pre-existing conditions and rules allowing people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” Joseph Hunt, the assistant attorney general and two other lawyers wrote in the court filing.
More than 11 million people signed up for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Nicholas Bagley, a professor of law at the University of Michigan described the Trump administration’s new stance as “reckless irresponsibility.” Bagley added, “The notion that you could gut the entire ACA and not wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people is insane.”
The Trump administration’s change of tune could make Obamacare a central issue in the upcoming presidential election. Trump’s 2016 campaign vowed to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. On the other hand, some Democratic candidates are making Medicare For All a campaign platform.
House Democrats are also introducing legislation to boost protections afforded by the Affordable Care Act and expand its coverage. The bill will be unveiled Tuesday and make subsidized health insurance available to more middle-class Americans. The legislation will also seek to block the Trump administration from allowing states to loosen protections for people with pre-existing conditions through waivers, the Associated Press reports.
“This is about very immediately answering the promises our members made in the campaign to lower health care costs,” a senior Democratic aide told Vox about the legislation.