Baltimore, other cities sue Trump administration, alleging 'sabotage' of Obamacare

Baltimore and other cities sued President Donald Trump’s administration Thursday, accusing federal officials of “sabotage” in attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

“Having failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump and his Administration are waging a relentless campaign to sabotage and, ultimately, to nullify the law,” wrote the plaintiffs, which include Baltimore, Chicago and two Ohio cities, Columbus and Cincinnati.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Baltimore, alleges that the Trump administration’s actions to undo the Affordable Care Act through executive actions have increased the burden on local jurisdictions and hospitals to care for those who have lost insurance.

“Our fire department answered 17,000 calls last year for people who were uninsured,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. “That’s going to be a problem for our city. Somebody’s got to pay. The cost is absolutely there.”

Pugh predicted more jurisdictions across the country would join the suit.

“This is impacting communities and neighborhoods throughout the country,” she said.

The cities allege the Trump administration is “discouraging Americans from enrolling” in health care plans; “working to raise prices and reduce choices” for people seeking insurance in health care exchanges; and “misappropriating funds Congress allocated to support the Act.”

“President Trump has repeatedly admitted as much: because Congress rejected his demand to have ‘Obamacare repealed,’ he has said, he decided ‘to go a different route’ and ‘end Obamacare’ through his own actions,” the plaintiffs wrote. “To that end, President Trump and his Administration are deliberately trying to make the Act fail.”

The cities are asking U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow to force the administration to comply with their “constitutional obligation to take care to faithfully execute the ACA, including by acting to expand, rather than suppress, the number of individuals and families obtaining health insurance through ACA exchanges;” “reduce, rather than increase, premiums for health insurance in the ACA exchanges;” and “promote, rather than diminish, the availability of comprehensive, reasonably-priced health insurance for individuals and families with preexisting conditions.”

The Trump administration has not yet filed a response. Republicans and other critics have argued the law is too costly for businesses and that its requirements intrude into private decisions that should be made by individuals.

Adam Grogg, senior counsel for the Democracy Forward Foundation, said the suit documents how the president has been trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act since taking office.

He called the leaders of the cities involved a “tremendous, courageous group of plaintiffs.”

The Affordable Care Act increased the number of Americans with health coverage by about 20 million.

Grogg said the administration’s actions were reversing that progress.

“There are signs the number of uninsured and underinsured are beginning to rise,” he said. “We’re seeing those gains recede.”

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