House Democrats demand Attorney General Barr hand over documents on DOJ’s anti-ACA decision

House Democrats demand Attorney General Barr hand over documents on DOJ’s anti-ACA decision
William Barr image via PBS NewsHour

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, a group of Democrats in the House of Representatives are demanding that he give them documents pertaining to the Trump Administration’s recent decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare, in court. The Democrats are also asking Russell Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to sit with them for an interview and discuss his role in the decision.

In the lawsuit Texas v. Azar — which has been making its way through the courts — a group of Republicans assert that the ACA is unconstitutional and must be throw out entirely. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, who represents the Northern District of Texas, upheld the lawsuit on December 30, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) under Barr subsequently agreed that the entire law should be invalidated. Previously, the DOJ favored invalidating only portions of the ACA.

In a letter sent to Barr on Monday, five Democrats in the House asserted, “It is Congress’ responsibility as an independent and coequal branch of government to understand how this decision was made, including whether the president or anyone in the White House instructed the department to override its legal conclusions and take a position that would result in the loss of health insurance coverage for millions of Americans.”

How the courts will ultimately rule on Texas v. Azar remains to be seen. The case could eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And if the High Court were to agree with the lawsuit and strike down the ACA in its entirety, all of the law’s protections would be eliminated — including the rule that health insurance companies could not deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Critics of President Donald Trump’s anti-ACA efforts are warning that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance if Texas v. Azar is successful and Obamacare is eliminated without some type of replacement.

When Republicans in Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and Trump signed the tax bill into law, the individual mandate portion of the ACA was eliminated—and Americans were no longer required to purchase health insurance or face a penalty. However, most of Obamacare remained. And in Texas v. Azar, Republicans are arguing that because the individual mandate was ended, the entire law is invalid and unconstitutional.

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