WASHINGTON — The Trump administration told a federal court on Thursday that it would no longer defend crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions.
Under those provisions of the law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge higher rates to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
The Justice Department said the provisions were part of an unconstitutional scheme that required most Americans to carry health insurance.
In a court case filed by Texas and 19 other states, the Justice Department said the requirement for people to have insurance — the individual mandate — was unconstitutional.
If that argument is accepted by the federal court, it could eviscerate major parts of the Affordable Care Act that remain in place despite numerous attacks by President Trump and his administration.
A decision is months away, however, and appeals of any decision could take many more months.
The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in 2012 as an exercise of the government’s power to tax. But since Congress repealed the tax last year, the mandate and the law’s consumer protections can no longer be justified, the Justice Department said.
The mandate cannot be interpreted as a tax “because it will raise no revenue as Congress has eliminated the monetary penalty,” the department said in a brief filed in the Federal District Court in Fort Worth.