AG Hill in minority praising ruling against ACA mandate

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill spent Monday morning on cable television news channels applauding a federal court’s ruling that found the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, but Republican leaders in Indiana remained silent.

Friday, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, ruled the entire healthcare reform law, dubbed Obamacare, is invalid. The court held in a 55-page order that the law cannot stand because Congress knocked out the constitutional foundation when it eliminated the individual mandate or penalty that individuals incurred for not having health insurance.

O’Connor denied the request from the law’s opponents to have his ruling take effect immediately. Consequently, the ACA remains in effect.

Indiana was among 18 states that joined a lawsuit, Texas et al. v. United States of America et al., 4:18-cv-00167, in February 2018. The states argued once Congress disposed of the mandate that everyone has to purchase health coverage, the ACA could not survive a constitutional challenge.

Following the ruling, Hill called O’Connor’s decision “a victory for all Americans who believe in the principles enshrined in our U.S. Constitution.” He described the ACA as federal overreach and admonished Congress for imposing the mandate.

“Moving forward, Congress should continue to play a strong role in promoting access to quality health care for all Americans,” Hill said. “At the same time, however, it also must respect the authority of Indiana and all other states to exercise freedom in the way we address the issue of health care for our own citizens.”

Monday, the Attorney General spoke about the ruling on Fox New Channel’s “Fox and Friends” and Fox Business Network’s “Varney and Co.” On Fox and Friends, Hill said Congress must pull together to determine what needs to be done to provide “sufficient health care for all Americans” and he nodded to the concerns many have raised about individuals with pre-existing conditions losing insurance, saying Congress’s actions should include looking at coverage for those pre-existing conditions.

In August, advocacy groups in Indiana urged Hill to drop the lawsuit. They pointed out more than 600,000 Indiana residents were afraid of losing their health insurance if the ACA was scrapped.

Following the ruling, other Indiana Republican leaders have not commented. Indiana Senate President Rod Bray did not respond to an inquiry from the Indiana Lawyer about his reaction to the ACA ruling. Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma could not be reached for comment.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office replied the ruling should have no immediate effect on state operations. “Our focus remains squarely on Hoosiers, including the hundreds of thousands that enrolled in the state’s (Healthy Indiana Plan) program.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane announced he was filing a bill that would protect Hoosiers from losing their health coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.

“I’ve been working on the language for this bill for months because of the constant attempts from the federal government to take health coverage away from sick Americans,” Lanane said in a statement. “I also knew this was a real possibility since our own Indiana Attorney General Hill participated in this lawsuit to take health care away from the very people that voted for him, and because Governor Holcomb also supported efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

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