Medicine

Four US cities sue over Trump 'sabotage' of Obamacare

Four US cities sue over Trump 'sabotage' of Obamacare

President Trump, pictured in July 2017.

Four major USA cities filed a lawsuit on Thursday contending that President Donald Trump's administration is unconstitutionally seeking to undermine Obamacare by failing to faithfully execute the healthcare law.

It cites Trump statements like "we are getting rid of ObamaCare", and "essentially, we have gotten rid of it" to argue that Trump has sabotaged the law.

The lawsuit states that Trump's actions are "an affront to the rule of law: to our constitutional system, under which Congress enacts laws and the President faithfully implements them".

NBC obtained a draft of the lawsuit filed in Maryland federal court by Chicago, Baltimore, Columbus and Cincinnati.

With the law still in place despite Trump's and congressional Republicans' hostility toward it, "we are looking to do everything we can to take incremental steps that will make insurance coverage more affordable", Jim Parker, director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Health Reform, said in a briefing for reporters shortly before the rule became public. Azar said they're tailor-made for the "gig economy". "We're just providing more options".

That is the central change the Trump administration is making now, allowing the plans to last up to 364 days and letting insurers renew them for as many as three years - a renewal that the ACA has forbidden. These plans look appealing because they're less expensive than Obamacare, but they cover fewer medical services and charge higher rates for those with pre-existing conditions.




Such health plans have long existed, and their idea was to provide temporary coverage for people who are between jobs or have other brief need for low-priced insurance.

Short-term insurance policies go further than the association health plans in the ways they are exempt from parts of the 2010 health-care law that are meant to protect consumers from shoddy insurance that disadvantages consumers who need it most.

If successful, the lawsuit also would nullify Trump's new rule allowing consumers to buy short-term health insurance that doesn't meet ACA requirements. According to NBC News, 3 million fewer people had health insurance in 2017 compared to the year prior, and city-subsidized health centers in Columbus saw nearly 3,000 more uninsured patients. The CMS projected that 600,000 people will buy the skinny coverage next year.

As younger, healthier people opt out of ACA markets, premiums will rise for people buying ACA-regulated plans. "But with the number of uninsured people going up, our ability to recoup is hurt, and that's a direct result of President Trump trying to sabotage the ACA".

"By actively and avowedly wielding executive authority to sabotage the ACA, defendants are not acting in good faith; instead, they have usurped Congress's lawmaking function, and they are violating the Constitution", the complaint said. In response, Obama-era health officials in 2016 restricted the short-term policies to three months.

"There is a specific psychology to the private market. And when you mess with that, as the president has done repeatedly by saying he finally killed Obamacare, that throws the whole thing off", Slavitt told NPR. "When I was in the [Obama] administration no one asked me if some law passed by Gerald Ford or Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon, was something I wanted to enforce".