A coalition of eight health care groups from across the state delivered letters and a signed petition to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office Friday, urging him to withdraw Indiana from a federal lawsuit they say aims to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Under the ACA, insurance companies are unable to deny or drop coverage due to pre-existing conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cancer. Almost 3 million Hoosiers have pre-existing conditions.
Protect Our Care Indiana Spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said that those protections are critical for Hoosiers who face the potential loss of necessary medications and coverage provided under the ACA. Shepherd presented letters to the attorney general’s office from several organizations and concerned citizens in opposition of Indiana’s participation in the law suit.
Hill signed Indiana on to the Texas v. HHS lawsuit in February, joining 19 other states that seek to strike down the current ACA pre-existing protections.
“The AG said he is here to do the people’s business, and it’s business as usual,” Shepherd said. “Well, the people are here to say, we do not want Indiana to participate in a lawsuit that will cost Hoosiers their lives and their health.”
Shepherd was accompanied by Fran Quigley, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Health and Human Rights Clinic Director. The attorney and legal expert said he wanted to address Hill directly, lawyer to lawyer.
“Attorney General Hill, you made a promise to us. And you’re breaking that promise,” Quigley said. “You promised to protect our safety, but instead you are undermining our safety with this lawsuit. We call upon you to stop misusing the power of your office. Stop trying to sabotage our healthcare.”
Thyroid cancer survivor Jessica Hoag of Indianapolis wanted to make sure Hill really understood the consequences of removing protections from Hoosiers such as herself who rely on them for survival.
Hoag, 23, was diagnosed at age 17 and takes thyroid medication every day to prevent her cancer from returning.
“I need to take it every day or else I can’t function as a normal human,” she said. “I’m afraid that if I don’t have health insurance, then I will be left to the wolves. If I get cancer again, I don’t know if I can afford that. That’s a scary thought.”
Hoag said she’s afraid she’ll die if she can’t get her medicine, which currently remains covered under her parent’s insurance for the next three years. If the ACA is dismantled, however, she’s unsure how she’ll afford it.
“If I’m not able to use this medication, it will be horrible. It will be a very sad, slow death,” she said. “That’s the ultimate truth of it. If people can’t afford medication, what are you going to do?”
As the young woman handed off her letter of opposition to the attorney general’s office, she said she hopes Hill considers what he’s doing by joining the lawsuit.
“I hope Attorney General Curtis Hill really sits down and thinks about his humanity and thinks about what other people go through in their lives,” Hoag said. “Thank God that he is a healthy human being, works at the statehouse and can be able to easily afford medication. And not have to worry about these types of things that are life and death.”
The attorney general’s office said it has no comment at this time.