President Donald Trump Asks Courts to End Obamacare in Its Entirety

Trump at the White House
The Trump administration has asked a federal appeals court to end the Affordable Care Act and leave more than 20 million Americans without health insurance coverage. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

While all eyes were on Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday, the Trump administration quietly dealt a huge blow to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

In a brief filed Wednesday, the president asked a federal appeals court to end the Obama-era health insurance program and leave more than 20 million Americans without coverage.

The Trump administration joined a coalition of conservative-leaning states and wrote a brief to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, in which it asked the court to uphold U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor's ruling late last year to end the law.

The entirety of the law should be rendered unconstitutional because Congress ended the tax penalty for not having health insurance in 2017, the administration said.

Originally, the administration had wanted to eliminate only certain parts of the ACA. But in the court brief filed on Wednesday, it explained that they had changed their minds.

"The remaining provisions of the ACA should not be allowed to remain in effect—again, even if the government might support some individual positions as a policy matter," the administration wrote.

Democratic attorneys general, with a team led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the U.S. House of Representatives appealed O'Connor's ruling. "Our legal coalition will vigorously defend the law and the Americans President Trump has abandoned," said Becerra in a statement Wednesday.

BREAKING: Trump files a brief today going further than ever before to dismantle the ACA in entirety.

This means:

— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡🇺🇸 (@ASlavitt) May 1, 2019

The appeals court will hold oral arguments in July. The next stop would be the Supreme Court, which has already heard two cases on Obamacare and still retains four of the original justices that voted for the law.

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans currently have no plan in place to replace the ACA and provide coverage to the uninsured. If Obamacare were repealed, nearly every American would be affected in some way, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The foundation's monthly poll on the ACA also found that more than half of Americans have a "very" or "somewhat" favorable view of the law.

And while about 75 percent of the president's base has an unfavorable view of Obamacare, the majority of Republicans do enjoy some elements of the ACA. Nearly 60 percent of Republicans support protections for those with pre-existing conditions, about 70 percent support ending co-payments for preventive services, and two-thirds support keeping adults under 26 on their parents' insurance plans.

"Trump has now gone further than ever before in his efforts to strike down the entire ACA. He wants to take health care away from millions of Americans and hurt millions more with pre-existing conditions," said Democratic National Committee deputy war room director Daniel Wessel in a statement.

"Democrats won't stop fighting to protect Americans' health care, and voters will hold Trump accountable on Election Day," he added.