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The Journal Gazette

  • Stone

Monday, September 10, 2018 1:00 am

Wrongly reasoned

Invalidated ACA would leave Hoosiers at risk

Dr. Robert Stone

The authors

Dr. Robert Stone, a Blooming-ton physic-ian, wrote this on behalf of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, Faith in Indiana, Indiana Black Legislative Conference, Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Northern Indiana Community Coalition for Health Care, People of Faith for Access to Medicines, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky, Protect Our Care Indiana and Indiana Network Advocates. 

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor heard oral arguments in Texas v. Azar, which Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill joined earlier this year. This lawsuit attacks the Affordable Care Act.

A group representing eight health care advocacy groups and thousands of Hoosiers met with Hill last month to ask why he is dedicating state resources to this lawsuit.

We asked him to withdraw from the lawsuit because it puts the ACA and its numerous protections in jeopardy.

If it is successful, insurance companies could once again deny coverage to, or drop, the 2.7 million Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions.

Hill said he feels obligated to speak up because he believes the ACA is no longer constitutionally viable after congressional Republicans' removal of the ACA provision that requires all Americans to secure insurance coverage.

Many legal scholars believe that argument is absurd because Congress could have repealed all the ACA's protections when it removed the individual mandate. But it didn't.

We hope this lawsuit is dismissed or, if found to be just another attempt by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to kill the ACA on political grounds, that Hill will see fit to withdraw Indiana.

It's unlikely that Texas' attorney general will accept a ruling that he's wrong. That means this lawsuit will likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, to which Trump plans to appoint – with the help of Senate Republicans – a justice who will side with him to finally kill the ACA.

Make no mistake: At its heart, this is no battle over legalese.

It's an expensive, time-consuming effort to kill the ACA – landmark legislation that the majority of Americans want to see improved and kept.

Hill heard from Hoosiers such as Jessica Hoag, a 23-year-old cancer survivor who is worried that her pre-existing condition will be used to deny her affordable health care and the medication she needs to survive.

He heard in a letter from Trisha Brand, whose children have asthma and will always need medication that is currently provided by the ACA as she and her entrepreneurial husband work to build a business.

He has heard from hundreds of other Hoosiers dealing with diabetes, heart conditions and other issues that could soon be used against them if the Republicans prevail either in Congress or the courts.

More than 130 million Americans have pre-existing conditions. The ACA stopped insurers from using those medical conditions to deny or drop coverage.

It removed caps on coverage that have bankrupted families suffering through illnesses that require long-term hospital stays or treatment. It saved lives.

Like other actions that would have repealed or diminished the ACA without providing an adequate replacement, this Texas lawsuit is a shameful, despicable act.

It's too much to ask Hill to switch sides and join instead the 17 attorneys general who stepped up to defend the ACA and to protect Americans. But we again implore him to withdraw Indiana from this lawsuit.