- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2019

The Trump administration asked a federal appeals court Monday to hear arguments on a major Obamacare case in early July, saying it wants to get moving on a legal challenge that’s viewed as a long shot but could kill off the 2010 law.

The Justice Department said parties in the case — from GOP states rooting against Affordable Care Act to House Democrats defending their program — do not object to putting the case before appellate judges the week of July 8.

“Prompt resolution of this case will help reduce uncertainty in the healthcare sector, and other areas affected by the Affordable Care Act,” administration attorneys said in a motion to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Blue-state attorneys general are appealing a Texas judge’s decision in December, which held that Congress‘ decision to gut the “individual mandate” to hold insurance makes the rest of the law invalid.

In a surprise move, the Justice Department last month said it agrees with the lower court’s decision and the whole law should fall, including parts that protected people with preexisting medical conditions, expanded Medicaid in dozens of states and a provision letting young adults stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

Previously, it only thought the preexisting conditions provision should be eliminated.

“After further consideration, the United States has informed this court of its new position that it agrees with the district court that the mandate is unconstitutional and not severable from the remainder of the act,” the Justice Department reminded the circuit on Monday.

Mr. Trump used the occasion to call for a GOP replacement to Obamacare, only to back off in the face of opposition from Senate GOP leaders, who don’t want to wade back into a fight seen as a net winner for Democrats.

Instead, the White House is planning to release a set of principles and put off a vote until 2021, hoping the GOP retakes full control of Congress.

Still, the court challenge is seen as a risky gambit, since the program could be dismantled before there is a full replacement.

Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law, said the administration likely wants the Supreme Court to resolve the situation “asap,” since Mr. Trump has decided the whole law should fall.

If it does reach the high court, however, the case could be heard during the 2019-2020 term and decided by June.

“Right before the convention,” he said. “I do not understand the logic.”

“If the Court gives him the kill shot, he can claim victory,” he said. “If the Court upholds the law, he can say Congress has to fix it.”

Mr. Blackman said one explanation is that Mr. Trump might be pushing to spin either outcome as a victory.

“If the court gives him the kill shot, he can claim victory,” he said. “If the court upholds the law, he can say Congress has to fix it.”

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