GOP senator: DOJ's ObamaCare argument 'as far-fetched as any I've ever heard'

GOP senator: DOJ's ObamaCare argument 'as far-fetched as any I've ever heard'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government GOP lawmakers distance themselves from ObamaCare ruling Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Taxpayers Union — Incoming Dem chairman vows hearings on ObamaCare lawsuit | Sign-up period ends amid new uncertainty | Johnson & Johnson hits back over asbestos report MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, called the Trump administration's argument against ObamaCare in a court case "as far-fetched as any I've ever heard."

The Justice Department (DOJ) wrote in a filing Friday that it would not defend ObamaCare's protections for people with pre-existing conditions, siding in large part with a challenge to the law brought by a coalition of Republican-led states.

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The states, and the DOJ, argue that Congress's repeal of the tax penalty associated with ObamaCare's individual mandate makes the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.

Alexander said it wasn't the intent to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions when the mandate penalty was repealed late last year.

“There’s no way Congress is going to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions who want to buy health insurance. The Justice Department argument in the Texas case is as far-fetched as any I’ve ever heard," Alexander said in a statement late Tuesday evening.

"Congress specifically repealed the individual mandate penalty, but I didn’t hear a single senator say that they also thought they were repealing protections for people with pre-existing conditions."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellIsrael boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate Schumer blasts GOP request for immigration 'slush fund' Trump: 'Too early to say' if shutdown will be averted MORE (R-Ky.) also defended ObamaCare's protections for people with pre-existing conditions Tuesday, saying that "everybody" in the Senate is in favor of maintaining them.

Democrats have seized on the DOJ's filing to argue that Republicans are again trying to take away the most popular parts of ObamaCare ahead of the critical midterms in November.