The Department of Justice yesterday told a federal court that it would no longer defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including ones that require individuals to have health insurance and protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions. The DOJ filing is in a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican-led states in February. The lawsuit, which was filed in Texas, asks the court to declare the ACA unconstitutional because the recently-enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed the tax penalty enforcing the ACA’s individual mandate. The individual mandate repeal takes effect next year. Yesterday’s DOJ brief said the individual mandate was unconstitutional and that the protections for people with pre-existing conditions were inseparable from the individual mandate, so those protections also must be struck down. The DOJ brief said other ACA provisions could remain in place. Sixteen Democratic-led states yesterday filed a brief defending the ACA. The AHA and other national hospital associations next week will file an amicus brief in support of the ACA’s continued vitality. “As it stands today, the individual mandate is clearly severable from the rest of the Act,” said AHA General Counsel Melinda Hatton. “Ruling otherwise and striking down the entire ACA would devastate this nation’s hospitals and health systems and the patients they serve. Nothing requires that catastrophic result.”

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