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 PalloneHouse Democrats announce bill to rein in tech algorithms House Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug Intercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum MORE (N.J.), Ways and Means Committee ranking member Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump lawyers ask judge to block IRS from giving his tax returns to congressional panel Manchin dampens progressive hopes for billionaires tax 535 'presidents' with veto power: Why budget deal remains elusive MORE (Mass.), Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), and Education and the Workforce Committee ranking member Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottPandemic leads to sharp drop in school enrollment Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Watchdog: 7 members of Congress allegedly failed to disclose stock trades 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.