The Health Information Information Association, which represents health insurers in the United States, filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Donald Trump, accusing him of fraud and defamation for a tweet that falsely claimed the group was “scamming” consumers and misrepresenting its position on health care.
In the tweet, published March 16, the president tweeted that the group is “scams” because it “fraudulently claims that the U.S. will not cover your health care costs if you don’t get it.”
The tweet is part of a broader feud between the association and Trump, who has called the association a “failing entity” and said the association was “a disaster.”
In a statement on Friday, the association’s president and CEO, Eric Schmitt, said that “the president’s false claims about the association are untrue and malicious and are not representative of the views of the association or its members.”
Trump tweeted the tweet about the organization on March 15, after it published an opinion piece in The Washington Post that criticized Trump’s health care proposal.
The group also said in a statement that the tweet was part of “a pattern of irresponsible tweets, and a concerted effort to undermine the association.”
The association said the president “has been repeatedly and falsely accused of engaging in fraudulent behavior,” and that the tweets “seriously harm consumers.”
Schmitt said the group’s lawsuit seeks damages, including “actual, punitive, and exemplary damages for false statements of fact and misleading advertising.”
Trump’s attorneys, Mark Zaid, and Robert J. Bork, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has been under fire from health insurers over the past month over his healthcare proposal, which would end the federal government’s Medicaid expansion program, and he has repeatedly called the organization a “phony scam.”
On March 17, the day after the president’s tweet, the Association for Health Information Technology in the USA, or AHT, announced it would file a complaint with the Justice Department.
The organization was founded in 2010 by the American Hospital Association and is an independent organization.
The organization has faced a backlash in recent weeks from health insurance industry and consumer advocates, including from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who has accused the organization of “scammed” consumers.
Murray and other Democrats in Congress have called on the Trump administration to immediately withdraw the lawsuit.
Trump is also facing criticism for signing an executive order in April that called on federal regulators to investigate and prosecute health insurers for failing to provide accurate information to consumers about health care options.
AARP and other health insurers have argued that the order was not enforceable and that it has no authority to regulate them.
The White House has said the order, which has been blocked by the courts, is intended to give the administration “more flexibility” in the future.