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Art Caplan | BPR 6/13/18

Sessions Won't Defend Affordable Care Act's Protection Of People With Pre-Existing Conditions

Jeff Sessions
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that he won't defend the Affordable Care Act's provision that protects people pre-existing conditions.
David Zalubowski/AP
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Art Caplan | BPR 6/13/18

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with the direct approval of President Donald Trump, won’t defend the constitutionality of the provision of the Affordable Care Act that protects people with pre-existing conditions.

This decision was expressed in a brief that was filed in a Texas federal court last Thursday, which is one of 20 states that are challenging the legality of the ACA now that the individual mandate has been removed. Sessions’ brief argues that individual mandate is "inseverable" from the provision that protects people with pre-existing conditions, and if the mandate is unconstitutional, so are these protections.

Before the ACA’s protection, people with pre-existing conditions could be turned away by insurance companies. In 2011, an analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services, found that between 50 to 129 million non-elderly Americans with pre-existing conditions would gain new protections under the ACA reforms.

Art Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, condemned Sessions’ decision not to defend the protection of people with pre-existing conditions on Boston Public Radio Wednesday.

“I don’t know where the moral abyss ends,” he said. “Insurance is to spread the risk, not to figure out who is at the most risk and leave them at the side of road. That’s not the way to go.”

Caplan warned that this could potentially impact the open insurance market along with the people using ACA policies. “The open market is affected if this gets struck down in court. It isn’t just 'I’m buying an Obamacare policy,' it would go to all attempts to exclude pre-existing conditions.”

Click above to hear the full interview with the Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center Art Caplan.

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