Four US cities sue over Trump 'sabotage' of Obamacare

Aug 2 (Reuters) - Four major U.S. cities filed a lawsuit on Thursday contending that President Donald Trump's administration is unconstitutionally seeking to undermine Obamacare by failing to faithfully execute the healthcare law.

The complaint in federal court in Baltimore, filed by the cities of Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, alleged that the Republican president is "waging a relentless campaign to sabotage and, ultimately, to nullify the law."

The lawsuit argued that because Congress has not repealed the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is legally known, the U.S. Constitution requires Trump to take care that it, like other laws, is "faithfully executed."

The cities in Ohio, Maryland and Illinois contended that the administration's actions are forcing them to spend more on uncompensated care for their residents by driving up the rate of uninsured individuals.

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Tea Party Patriots supporters hold signs protesting the Affordable Care Act in front of the Supreme Court as the court hears arguments on the health care reform bill on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

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Affordable Care Act supporters wave signs outside the Supreme Court after the court upheld court's Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

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A man holds signs during a protest on the second day of oral arguments for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today is the second of three days the high court has set aside to hear six hours of arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Sister Caroline attends a rally with other supporters of religious freedom to praise the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby, contraception coverage requirement case on June 30, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, which operates a chain of arts-and-craft stores, challenged the provision and the high court ruled 5-4 that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom.

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An Obamacare supporter counter protests a Tea Party rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the morning hours of March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court continued to hear oral arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Affordable Care Act supporters hold up signs outside the Supreme Court as they wait for the court's decision on Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

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Ron Kirby holds a sign while marching in protest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court, which has set aside six hours over three days, will hear arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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A protester waves his bible in the air as he overpowered by cheers from supporters of the Affordable Care Act as they celebrate the opinion for health care outside of the Supreme Court in Washington,Thursday June 25, 2015. The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

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Nuns, who are opposed to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, and other supporters rally outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case brought by religious groups challenging a process for opting out of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

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Supporters of contraception rally before Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, 2016.

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Protestors hold placards challenging 'Obamacare' outside of the US Supreme Court on March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court heard a second challenge to US President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The US Supreme Court faces a momentous case Wednesday on the sweeping health insurance reform law that President Barack Obama wants to leave as part of his legacy. The question before the court is whether the seven million people or more who subscribed via the government's website can obtain tax subsidies that make the coverage affordable. A ruling is expected in June.

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 Linda Door (L) protests against President Obama's health care plan in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court, which has set aside six hours over three days, will hear arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate after the Supreme Court up held the law in the 6-3 vote at the Supreme Court in Washington June 25, 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, handing a major victory to the president.

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The complaint said Trump has defied his obligation to uphold the law by taking executive actions aimed at undercutting it after he failed to get Congress to repeal the law, as he promised to do in his campaign.

"By actively and avowedly wielding executive authority to sabotage the ACA, defendants are not acting in good faith; instead, they have usurped Congress’s lawmaking function, and they are violating the Constitution," the complaint said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump stands with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar as they participate in the White House Sports and Fitness Day event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump enters the Rose Garden with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to speak about lowering drug prices at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speak about lowering drug prices from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, sitting with Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, reacts with a wink and a thumbs-up to a compliment from U.S. President Donald Trump during a youth forum titled Generation Next, at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar participates in a forum called Generation Next at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Alex Azar II prepares to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary in Washington, U.S., January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Alex Azar II testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary in Washington, U.S., January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Alex Azar testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
US President Donald Trump arrives with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar outside the White House on the South Lawn before he delivers remarks and participates in the White House Sports and Fitness Day on May 30, 2018 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C), flanked by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar(C-L)as people participate in the White House Sports and Fitness Day on May 30, 2018 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), right, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump listens during an event on lowering drug prices in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, May 11, 2018. Trump is proposing a sweeping effort to bring down U.S. drug prices in a long-awaited plan meant to fulfill a promise he has been pushing since his bid for the White House. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), speaks during a press briefing at the White House after an event on lowering drug prices with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, May 11, 2018. Trump is proposing a sweeping effort to bring down U.S. drug prices in a long-awaited plan meant to fulfill a promise he has been pushing since his bid for the White House. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 11: HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar (C), speaks during the unveiling of 'Prescribed to Death' a Memorial to the victims of the opioid crisis, temporally located on the Ellipse at President� Park, on April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. The memorial consists of a wall of 22,000 engraved white pills �each representing the face of someone lost to a prescription opioid overdose in 2015. Also pictured is Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and White House Counselor�ellyanne Conway. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 11: Deborah Hersman, (C), CEO of the National Safety Council, speaks during the unveiling of 'Prescribed to Death' a Memorial to the victims of the opioid crisis, temporally located on the Ellipse at President� Park, on April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. The memorial consists of a wall of 22,000 engraved white pills �each representing the face of someone lost to a prescription opioid overdose in 2015. Also pictured is HHS Secretary Alex�. Azar (L), and White House Counselor�ellyanne Conway. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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The Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010 under Democratic President Barack Obama. The law extended health insurance to some 20 million Americans.

The lawsuit cited several actions Trump's administration has taken to undercut Obamacare. For instance, it pointed to cuts to funding for groups that help people get insurance through the law.

It also noted that the administration last year said it would halt so-called cost-sharing payments, which offset some out-of-pocket healthcare costs for low-income patients.

In support of its claims that Trump has sabotaged the law, the complaint cites statements by the president like "we are getting rid of Obamacare" and "essentially, we have gotten rid of it."

The cities also cited a recent rule adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in April that the lawsuit said would increase the cost of health coverage and impose new barriers to enrollment.

The lawsuit said that rule lacked adequate justification and violated the text of the Affordable Care Act itself.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio)

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