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Four cities sue Trump for 'sabotage' of Affordable Care Act

By Charlene Zhang, Medill News Service and Daniel Uria
Four cities -- led by Columbus, Ohio, filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his administration for attempting to "sabotage" the Affordable Care Act. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/bc475afba8cf27a0a233be8bad2be7b2/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Four cities -- led by Columbus, Ohio, filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his administration for attempting to "sabotage" the Affordable Care Act. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 2 (UPI) -- A group of four cities filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his administration for violating the Constitution by attempting to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

The cities of Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Baltimore; Chicago; and two individuials filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland alleging Trump violated Article II of the Constitution which requires the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" while they remain in place.

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Although attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- also known as Obamacare -- have failed, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein told The Columbus Dispatch that Trump has sought to sabotage the healthcare law through his words and actions since he took office.

"When you look at his actions with his tweets, there's a clear, painted picture that he hates Obamacare and he's going to do everything in his power to dismantle it," Klein said. "We have an opportunity to stop criticizing and start holding him accountable under the law."

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Klein referenced a "premeditated destruction" of the ACA which has resulted in increased health coverage costs and depressed enrollment.

The complaint cites actions including making it easier for individuals and trade groups to purchase coverage outside the law's insurance markets; threatening to eliminate cost-sharing reduction payments; cutting funding for those who help individuals enroll in the program; and using federal funds Congress dedicated to implementing the law toward making videos criticizing it, NBC News reported.

The lawsuit also includes a list of Trump's tweets in which he indicated intent to sabotage the law by referring to it as "a broken mess" and expressing a desire to "let ObamaCare implode" to usher in a new healthcare plan.

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The suit seeks to force Trump to adopt policies that will promote the ACA, increase enrollment and reduce premiums.

If successful, the lawsuit also would nullify Trump's new rule allowing consumers to buy short-term health insurance that doesn't meet ACA requirements.

Senate Democrats on Thursday said they will attempt to block the new rule on short-term, limited-duration insurance, which expands the market by offering consumers access to cheaper plans than those in health insurance exchange under the ACA; the ability to buy the insurance for a year compared with the current three-month limit; and the opportunity to renew the plans for up to three years.

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Short-term, limited-duration insurance in the past has been aimed mainly at people who are between jobs or have other short-term needs, but the Trump administration said it wants to give consumers more choices in the individual market risk pools.

The new plan will not require insurers to cover prescription drugs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, maternity care or people with pre-existing conditions.

"We can't let the Trump administration and big insurance companies rewrite the rules," Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said during a press briefing call.

Baldwin, a member of Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said Trump has been sabotaging the health system "by undermining guaranteed health protection and access to affordable care," which has resulted in "severe instability," and notable premium spikes in Wisconsin earlier this year.

"These plans are nothing short of junk," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. "When people buy them, they are always going to be disappointed."

Schumer said Democrats will introduce a resolution to rescind the rule using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to revoke an administration regulation with a simple majority any time up to 60 legislative days after it is published in the Federal Register.

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However, Edmund F. Haislmaier, senior health policy researcher of the conservative Heritage Foundation, said people who are already sick and getting Obamacare subsidies will not be affected.

"The people who benefit most from this plan are self-employed or small business owners in the individual market that were hit the hardest by the skyrocketing premiums under Obamacare," said Haislmaier.

He cited a Health and Human Services Department study that said that average premiums for individual market insurance rose 105 percent from 2013 to 2107 under the Affordable Care Act. The Trump rule is an attempt to provide people who have left the market with an "alternative option," he said.

"People who have already jumped off the sinking ship are looking for the right boat in the water for them," Haislmaier said.

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