Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is commending the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that it will refrain from defending significant portions of the Affordable Care Act in court, saying the move shows the strength of a 20-state lawsuit challenging the controversial individual mandate.
In February, Indiana joined a 20-state coalition that sued to overturn the Affordable Care Act, begun by former President Barack Obama. The coalition argued changes made to the individual mandate brought about by the 2017 tax reform bill render the entire healthcare law unconstitutional.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 overturned the tax associated with the individual mandate, the mandate is now unconstitutional under NFIB v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012). In a letter to Congress dated June 7, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice will not defend the constitutionality of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, against the 20 state’s complaint, Texas et al. v. United States et al., 4:18-cv-00167-O (N.D. Tex.).
“From the beginning, the Affordable Care Act has represented federal overreach,” Hill said in a Tuesday statement. “Rather than legislating a one-size-fits-all mandate imposed nationwide, Congress should allow Indiana and all other states to exercise freedom in the ways they deal with the issue of health care for their own citizens.”
Hill follows in the footsteps of former Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who also made efforts to eliminate the ACA through lawsuit. Alongside 39 Indiana schools, Zoeller challenged the ACA's requirement that larger employers, including government entities, offer insurance to workers.
However, a coalition of 16 attorney generals led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra refuted the claim that the individual mandate under the ACA is unconstitutional. The 16-state coalition was granted leave to intervene in Texas et al. v. United States et al. in May.
“The lawsuit initiated by Texas is dangerous and reckless and would destroy the ACA as we know it. It would leave millions of Americans without access to affordable, quality healthcare. It is irresponsible and puts politics ahead of working families,” Becerra said in a statement issued June 7. “We won’t sit back as Texas and others try yet again to dismantle our healthcare system. Our coalition of states and partners across the country will fight any effort to strip families of their health insurance."