The Justice Department launched a fresh attack Monday on the Affordable Care Act, siding with a district judge in Texas who ruled last year that the entirety of the 2010 healthcare law should be thrown out.
Judge Reed C. O’Connor struck down the ACA, better known as Obamacare, in December last year after Trump’s tax cuts invalidated the ACA’s penalty for not having health insurance. That case is currently before a federal appeals court.
"The Department of Justice has determined that the district court's comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal," a spokesperson for the Justice Department said Monday.
If the appeals court sides with the Trump administration, millions could lose their healthcare coverage, as well as the benefits provided by Medicare expansion.
The decision to push for a full repeal of the ACA is a departure for the DoJ, now run by Attorney General William Barr. Under Barr’s predecessor, AG Jeff Sessions, the department wanted only to cut protections for pre-existing conditions. Now, the entirety of the law is once again being threatened.
This could lead to another Supreme Court showdown for Obamacare, which has already twice had its constitutionality ruled upon by the nation’s top court.
However, the move could prove something of a gift for Democrats.
Trump won a significant victory last week when the Mueller probe concluded that Trump’s 2016 campaign did not conspire with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Yet the Democrats have a clear advantage with voters on healthcare policy — as highlighted by their sweeping victories in the 2018 midterm election in which saving and even expanding provisions in the ACA proved a popular message.
Trump and Barr potentially just handed Democratic candidates the chance to double down on that message going into 2020.
Cover image: U.S. Attorney General William Barr leaves his home March 25, 2019 in McLean, Virginia. Stopping short of exonerating President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, Barr released a summary report of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, saying there was no collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian intelligence. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)