Federal Judge Rejects Trump Administration Proposal


The Trump administration’s policy plan of slinging at a dark wall and hoping something sticks isn’t working. This past week, U.S. District Judge John Bates struck down a rule they implemented last year to expand opportunities for so-called “association health plans,” which allow various subsets of people to band together under health coverage while sharing a common attribute — and while remaining free from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as ObamaCare.

Bates asserted that the expansion of the free-for-all side of the healthcare insurance market was an improper “end-run around the ACA,” which would make it just one of many ways the president’s team has sought to undercut the landmark healthcare law. Bates derided the rule change as meant to be a “magic trick” to produce “absurd results” completely divorced from the regulation on the books.

Just in recent days, the Trump team has amped up their rhetoric about health care, with the president repeatedly declaring that the GOP would soon become synonymous with good coverage. The White House argued in a recent court filing that the entire ACA should be thrown out, without having anything but a promise that a replacement plan would come “this year” — which isn’t exactly poised to be reassuring for the millions of people covered by the original legislation.

They established themselves against the entirety of ObamaCare via their latest filing in a case originating in Texas court where a Trump-appointed federal judge ruled that the entirety of the ACA should, in fact, be thrown out following the erasure of the financial penalty for not being covered that the original law included. Originally, the Trump administration had only responded to indicate they wouldn’t be defending a handful of provisions from the law, not dismissing the entire thing.

The end of the financial penalty for not having health insurance that Trump signed into law via the massive GOP tax reform package in late 2017 is one of the only fronts on which they’ve had success in their health care reform efforts. Just this past week, a federal judge struck down Medicaid work requirements in both Arkansas and Kentucky, which are among a handful of states where the Trump administration has granted waivers from national policy to impose the rule while pursuing a more systematic change. They included a national shift to a work requirement (and block grant) system in their recently unveiled budget for the 2020 fiscal year, although Congress has the final say on that.

There are a number of health care issues continuing to wind their way through the courts at present, like the challenges to the Trump team’s attempted imposition of a domestic “gag rule” cutting off funding from health providers that present abortion as an option.

That mirrors their imposition of a global “gag rule” cutting off funding from health care providers along similar lines, which the Trump administration recently expanded. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that they’d also be cutting off funding from organizations that support organizations that present abortion as an option.

The rules are among many that the Trump team has implemented in an effort to hollow out protections for the underprivileged in the service of their ideology.

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