The Trump administration now believes that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down, a major shift in the federal government’s position and one that could endanger health coverage for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

In a letter on Monday night, the justice department said it is now backing a Texas judge’s controversial December ruling that the healthcare law known as Obamacare is unconstitutional.

Throwing out the law would end healthcare coverage for millions of people – getting rid of publicly subsidized health insurance plans sold on exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and rules letting children stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” wrote Joseph Hunt, the assistant attorney general, and other lawyers in the new court filing.

Until this week, the government’s position was that only part of the law – like its rules prohibiting insurance companies from denying health insurance or charging more to people with pre-existing conditions – should be struck down.

The supreme court ruled in 2012 that the landmark healthcare law is constitutional.

But Texas and other states sued, arguing that Congress’s decision to end a tax penalty for people who don’t have health insurance as part of the 2017 tax overhaul made all of Obamacare invalid. The judge agreed.

A group of 21 Democratic states are appealing, since Trump’s justice department would not defend the law.

“This lawsuit is as dangerous as it is reckless. It threatens the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans across the country,” said Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, on Monday.

Experts said the justice department’s new filing represented a dramatic shift in policy.

“The sheer reckless irresponsibility is hard to overstate. The notion that you could gut the entire ACA and not wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people is insane,” wrote the University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley.

Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare through legislation, but the bill failed in Congress.

Trump has repeatedly vowed to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, calling it a “major priority” in his State of the Union speech this year.

Meanwhile, House Democrats plan on Tuesday to unveil legislation to expand Obamacare.

The bill would make more middle-class people eligible for subsidies to buy health insurance plans, and increase subsidies for lower-income Americans who already qualify, according to the Associated Press.

It would also block the Trump administration from giving states waivers allowing them to weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions.



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