President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on Obamacare, a day after his administration asked a federal court to strike down the entire law. Speaking in the Oval Office, he said Republicans “will be the party of great health care.” (March 27) AP
COLUMBUS – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost will join a growing number of states fighting a Texas judge’s decision to scrap the entire Affordable Care Act.
But Yost, a Republican, won’t be siding with fellow Republicans who filed the lawsuit or Democratic attorneys general who have joined together to support the Obama-era health care law.
Yost said in an interview he agrees that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional but disagrees that the rest of the law is also therefore invalid.
Yost plans to file a friend-of the-court brief in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal. The brief will argue the individual mandate can be removed from the law without eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions, insurance caps and other parts of the law. About 1.9 million non-elderly Ohioans have pre-existing conditions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
That puts him at odds with the Trump administration.
The Trump administration reversed course on Monday and said the entire law should be struck down. In a letter to the court, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote the “United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgement be reversed.”
“The Trump administration wants the same thing – they want efficient, inexpensive health care for everybody and to protect pre-existing conditions,” Yost said. “We just disagree with their lawyers on the legal issues.”
In 2018, 20 Republican attorneys general and governors challenged the constitutionality of the individual mandate after Congress eliminated the penalty in the 2017 tax bill. Democratic attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia filed to intervene in the suit after the Trump administration indicated it wouldn’t defend the mandate.
In December, Texas district court Judge Reed O’Connor agreed the penalty-less mandate was unconstitutional. O’Connor concluded the mandate was so essential to the Affordable Care Act that the whole law was also unconstitutional.
The ruling is on hold pending appeal and the case is expected to work its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (Photo: Provided)
Yost said the court should have considered the text of the law and not the intent of 535 members of Congress. But, Yost added, Congress has clearly already decided the individual mandate can be separated from the rest of Obamacare.
“Congress in 2017 removed the individual mandate and kept pre-existing conditions and other things regulating the markets and clearly indicated they intended to keep the law without the individual mandate,” Yost said.
Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati Enquirer, March 27, 2019
Ohio’s Republican attorney general breaks with President Trump, opposes Texas court decision tossing out Obamacare