Answer: The Justice Department told a federal district court in Texas on Thursday that the health care law's key provision - a mandate requiring most people to buy insurance - is soon to be unconstitutional.
The Justice Department said that also nullifies two other major provisions of Obamacare linked to the individual mandate, including one barring insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
Twenty Republican state attorneys general filed suit on February 26, charging that Congress' changes to the law in last year's tax bill rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
"We implore you to listen to the voices of career Justice Department lawyers, as well as concerned families, patients, doctors and hospitals that want to retain these protections, and start working with Democrats to strengthen our health care system instead of trying to tear it down", the senators said in their letter to Trump.
The issue became a flash point that helped derail Republican efforts to repeal the law past year, with opponents of the party's health bills speaking loudly against weakening protections for the sick and vulnerable.
"This is not a new experience for us under this new Trump era of having to defend Californians", Becerra said.
"Just read the brief of the states that intervened to defend the law". Lance, who faces a tough reelection race, distanced himself from his party's health-care legislation and the tax law that repealed the individual mandate.
"The question is, what does this do to insurance markets now?" said Jost. It "has made a decision to abandon the hundreds of millions of people who depend on" the law, he said in an interview with Kaiser Health News. "The Department will not defend the constitutionality" of the Affordable Care Act.
But the major insurance industry trade group said Friday that removing consumer protections for people with health problems and for older adults will harm consumers and create more turmoil in markets that have already seen steep premium increases.
NY was one of 17 states to intervene in the case in May in defense of the ACA.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday - before the Trump administration decision was unveiled - found health care was the top issue for all voters and that it's an issue where Democrats have an overwhelming advantage.
Stacy Stanford, policy analyst for the Utah Health Policy Project, a think tank and advocacy organization that is also a federal health exchange enrollment hub, said "the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and therefore the administration should be defending it". Even that, however, proved impossible to do, and in the end they settled for a small morsel: Tucked into their tax cut bill was a provision effectively repealing the individual mandate by reducing the fine for not carrying insurance to zero.
"If the Justice Department can just throw in the towel whenever a law is challenged in court, it can effectively pick and choose which laws should remain on the books", wrote Bagley.
The filing was made in reaction to a lawsuit filed by Texas, 18 other states and the governor of ME, but the Administration stopped short of supporting all that those challengers are asking.
Many health care experts disagree with that position.
"If those go together, they make sense", Showalter said.
In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sessions acknowledged that the executive branch typically defends existing federal law, but he concluded that this is a "rare case where the proper course is to forgo" defense of the individual mandate. "If the Trump Administration is successful in arguing against the constitutionality of protecting patients' access to care, it will have immediate and disastrous effect on our health care system and the American people".
"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections", the group said. Fifty-two million Americans with preexisting conditions are at risk or denial of coverage or higher premiums, wrote Timothy S. Jost, JD an emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.
Some Democratic politicians didn't waste much time.
Because the lawsuit could easily go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a process that could take years, the protections for people with preexisting conditions are likely to stay in place during that period. He added that lawyers can request to be reassigned from a particular case when they have moral or other "serious qualms" about the government's actions, but they "rarely" seek the court's permission to withdraw.