Attorney General James Leads Effort To Defend Affordable Care Act From Trump Administration

Attorney General James Leads Effort to Defend
Affordable Care Act from Trump Administration

After Federal Court Struck Down Regulation That Aimed to Sabotage the Affordable Care Act,
AG James Files Brief in Response to Administration’s Appeal 

11 AGs Join AG James in Filing Brief to Protect ACA

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James today announced she has led a coalition of 12 Attorneys General from across the country in defending the consumer protections provided to Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The group of Attorneys General filed a brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, defending a lower court’s decision striking down the U.S. Department of Labor’s Association Health Plan (AHP) Rule, which sought to evade consumer protections and sabotage the ACA.

“Despite the Affordable Care Act being the law of the land for almost a decade, the Trump Administration has been relentless in their efforts to strip Americans of its many protections and cut access to quality, affordable health coverage for millions of Americans,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “After failing to get Congress to do its dirty work, the Trump Administration is now trying to dismantle the ACA, piece-by-piece. Slowly but surely, however, we are doing everything in our power to defend this law and the many protections it provides to Americans throughout the nation.”

One year ago, the Office of the New York State Attorney General filed a lawsuit with 11 other Attorneys General to block efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine the ACA via the AHP Rule. In March, a district judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff states and against the Trump Administration’s Department of Labor, saying that the rule is “clearly an end-run around the ACA” and “creates absurd results.” The brief filed today responds to the Department of Labor’s appeal from that ruling.

The lawsuit argued that the AHP Rule violates both the ACA and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The suit argues that the rule unlawfully reverses decades of agency and judicial interpretation of ERISA’s key terms with the primary purpose of undermining the ACA, and without accounting for increased risk of fraud or harm to consumers, despite a longstanding history of such conduct by similar plans. 

The AHP Rule would undo critical federal consumer protections and unduly expand the use of AHPs without sufficient justification or consideration of the consequences. President Trump himself cited sabotage of the ACA as the purpose of the AHP Rule, proclaiming that it was a “truly historic step in our efforts to rescue Americans from Obamacare and the Obamacare nightmare.”

Joining Attorney General James in filing the brief are the Attorneys General of California, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

This brief was prepared by Assistant Solicitor General Matthew W. Grieco, Special Counsel to the Solicitor General Eric Haren, Deputy Solicitor General Steven C. Wu, and Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood, with the assistance of Health Care Bureau Chief Lisa Landau and Special Counsel Sara H. Mark, under the supervision of Chief Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Meghan Faux and Chief Counsel for Federal Initiatives Matthew Colangelo.