Did This Senior DOJ Official Resign Over the Agency's Latest Obamacare Decision?

Posted: Jun 13, 2018 11:25 AM

Department of Justice official Joel McElvain resigned just a day after the agency announced it wouldn’t defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions under Obamacare. Coincidence? Maybe, but he did spend years helping defend the health law in court. He even won the Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service for it in 2013.

What's more, McElvain, who started at DOJ in 1997, appeared to have no plans for an exit. He was in line to become director of the Justice Department’s federal programs branch, according to several of his colleagues.

Lawmakers were displeased with the administration's Obamacare decision too. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was all for repealing the individual mandate penalty, but getting rid of protections for people with pre-existing conditions was crossing the line.

"There’s no way Congress is going to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions who want to buy health insurance," Alexander said in a statement Tuesday. "The Justice Department argument in the Texas case is as far-fetched as any I’ve ever heard."

With its decision, the DOJ sides with a group of Republican-led states challenging the law, arguing that Congress's individual mandate repeal makes the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.

The Republican-led Congress failed to pass legislation last year that would have repealed the health law. The now infamous "no" votes came from Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Susan Collins (ME), and, of course, John McCain (R-AZ). President Trump has not forgotten.

McElvain's resignation takes effect in July.