States Defend Obamacare’s Consumer Protections From Trump

MANHATTAN (CN) –  Continuing its brick-by-brick dismantling of the federal health care law, the Trump administration’s Department of Labor announced earlier this year that it would strip consumer protections from the Affordable Care Act.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led a dozen other states in opposing that rule change on Wednesday.

In a 22-page letter to the Labor Department, Schneiderman said the new rule deregulates “associated health plans,” or AHPS, that have “a long and notorious history of fraud, mismanagement, and deception.”

“Over decades, Congress has legislated – including through ERISA and the ACA – to protect health care consumers from this fraudulent conduct,” Schneiderman wrote in the letter. “The proposed rule would reverse many of these critical consumer protections and unduly expand access to AHPs without sufficient justification or consideration of the consequences.”

The 13-strong coalition of attorneys general added that the president’s campaign to bleed his predecessor’s signature legislative accomplishment to death by a thousand cuts has not been subtle.

“The intent of the proposed rule is not covert: the president himself plainly cited the sabotage of the ACA as the clear purpose of the proposed rule,” the letter states.

“While signing the executive order directing this rulemaking, he stated he was ‘taking crucial steps towards saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare,’ and tweeted the following day that ‘ObamaCare is a broken mess, Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!’”

Attorneys general from Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont also signed the letter.

In a statement Wednesday, Schneiderman called the proposed rule change “nothing more than an end run” around Obamacare’s consumer protections.

The Labor Department has not returned a telephone request for comment.

Schneiderman and the other attorneys general have taken action before to protect the Affordable Care Act.

In January, Schneiderman filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan protesting a plan to cut $1 billion in state subsidies that help poor people – an initiative that the Trump administration first disclosed four days before Christmas. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who also signed today’s letter, led another federal lawsuit to defend billions in subsidies in October.

Schneiderman joined that litigation too, and he proposed legislation earlier this year that would protect New Yorker’s access to free contraception if the Trump administration went after that.

Last summer, Schneiderman participated in a rally with other New York officials and 500 other people inside an auditorium vowing to fight in court if congressional Republicans succeeded in repealing Obamacare.

Since that attempt fell flat, there was no need to file that lawsuit.

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