House Dems demand answers from HHS on DOJ's ObamaCare decision

House Dems demand answers from HHS on DOJ's ObamaCare decision
© Greg Nash

A group of House Democratic leaders are demanding answers from the Trump administration about the role the Department Health and Human Services (HHS) played in the Department of Justice’s decision not to defend key parts of ObamaCare in federal court.

The lawmakers asked HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma if their respective agencies conducted any analysis on the impact the decision will have on the country’s health-care system.

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The Justice Department 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.

The states, and the Justice Department, 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.

The letter was released ahead of a press conference by Democratic leaders reacting to the Justice Department's decision.

Democrats view health care as a winning issue for them in the November midterm elections, and the letter is the latest example of members pressing their perceived advantage.

It was signed by Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLawmakers call on Trump to keep tech legal shield out of trade talks Hillicon Valley: FTC fines Facebook B in privacy settlement | Critics pan settlement as weak | Facebook also faces FTC antitrust probe | Senate panel advances 'deepfakes' legislation | House passes anti-robocall bill House passes anti-robocall bill MORE (N.J.), Ways and Means Committee ranking member Richard NealRichard Edmund NealNY files motion to keep Trump tax returns lawsuit out of DC court Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax Senate Dems urge Mnuchin not to cut capital gains taxes MORE (Mass.), Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), and Education and the Workforce Committee ranking member Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDemocrats: Trump plan could jeopardize 500,000 children's free school meals Lawmakers, press hit the courts for charity tennis event House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour MORE (Va.).

By declining to defend ObamaCare's preexisting condition protections, “the Trump administration is seeking to invalidate these critical patient protections, and once again subject millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions to the discrimination they faced before [ObamaCare],” the Democrats wrote.

The decision “breaks with DOJ’s longstanding tradition of defending laws enacted by the United States Congress, and constitutes yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to sabotage the [Affordable Care Act] at the expense of consumers across the nation,” the letter said.