Four cities filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the Trump administration of violating the “Take Care” clause of the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act by chipping away at the Affordable Care Act in ways that have depressed health insurance enrollment and driven up costs for both individuals and taxpayers.
The complaint from the cities of Columbus, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Chicago charges President Trump with the “premeditated destruction” of parts of the ACA. They are suing to force the administration to restore the funding that was slashed for outreach and enrollment assistance, extend the 2019 open enrollment period, and steer people towards comprehensive ACA plans and away from skimpy short-term plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions.
Zach Klein, the city attorney for Columbus, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told reporters Thursday that the Trump administration’s cuts to ACA funding and promotion of unregulated health plans that violate the ACA will place a heavy burden on his city’s resources.
“It’s having a detrimental effect on our families and on our budget,” he said, noting that the city is already having to spend more on ambulances, free and subsidized clinics and public health programs. “Usually we recoup a good chunk of those costs by billing insurance companies. But with the number of uninsured people going up, our ability to recoup is hurt, and that’s a direct result of President Trump trying to sabotage the ACA.”
In the lawsuit, the cities cite both the President’s open promises to let Obamacare “implode” as well as his administration’s actions to make that happen —from the termination of enrollment partnerships with hundreds of local and national groups, to abruptly ending subsidies to insurers, to scuttling efforts by Congress to pass a market stabilization bill, to the evisceration of the budget for outreach and in-person assisters.
“While he has some discretion to effectuate the purposes of the ACA, that discretion does not extend to what he has done here,” said Adam Grogg, an attorney with the watchdog Democracy Forward, which is representing the cities in the lawsuit. “He can’t do things that are contrary to the letter of the law or the spirit of the law.”
Read the complaint below:
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