A demonstrator in support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s health-care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), holds up a “Healthcare for All” sign after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to save Obamacare tax subsidies outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Trump Administration Warns of ‘Chaos’ If Obamacare Is Blocked Too Soon

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration isn’t defending Obamacare from a legal attack that could finally slay the embattled health-care law, but the federal government cautioned Wednesday that an immediate and nationwide halt may trigger “chaos.”

Unlike the state of Texas, which urged a federal judge to block the Affordable Care Act right away, the Justice Department wants a court order not to take effect before Jan. 1, when the provision requiring people to pay a tax if they don’t have insurance is phased out.

Blocking Obamacare before January would “cause chaos in the insurance market,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate told U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor.

While the federal government’s position has been consistent since it first announced in June that it won’t defend the law, the politics around the Republican-led effort to nullify Obamacare have been amplified in the run-up to the November congressional elections. Wednesday’s court arguments come as Republicans try to defend their control of the House and Senate while many Democrats make health care a central issue in their campaigns.

O’Connor asked tough questions of all sides, including a group of Democratic attorneys general who’ve stepped in to defend Obamacare, and didn’t signal how he will rule.

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