IN THE NEWS: Tribune-Star editorial board slams Indiana Republicans’ efforts to strip protections for Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions

INDIANAPOLIS – The Terre Haute Tribune-Star editorial board this weekend criticized Indiana’s role in participating in a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act that aims to abolish key protections for the more than one million Hoosiers under the age of 65 with a pre-existing condition.

Republicans’ extraordinary step to further dismantle the nation’s health care system will make it harder for Hoosiers with medical issues like diabetes or a history of cancer to maintain the health care coverage they need. The Tribune-Star’s plea for Indiana to remove itself from the disastrous lawsuit undermining pre-existing conditions will likely fall on deaf ears, however, as Hoosier Republicans like Rep. Braun have been ardent supporters of the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the health care system at every turn.

From the Terre Haute Tribune-StarTribune-Star Editorial: State should not participate in undermining health care

The Trump administration — in its obsession to eradicate President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — has cornered vulnerable Americans in a Catch-22 health care predicament.

Sadly, the state of Indiana is complicit with the administration’s cynical maneuvering.

Trump’s Justice Department declared in federal court papers Thursday that it will no longer defend core elements of the ACA. That means the president’s team is washing its hands of provisions guaranteeing that Americans with pre-existing medical conditions get access to health insurance. Thus, people with medical conditions will not be guarded from being denied coverage or being charged higher premiums.

The ACA, battered by congressional Republicans’ unending efforts to sabotage it, remains the law of the land. Now, the executive branch has decided not to enforce the law and its coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Three career Justice Department lawyers involved in the case withdrew Thursday, opting not to support the administration’s position of ignoring the law. Joe Donnelly, Indiana’s Democratic senator, said the Trump administration was deliberately trying to “create chaos and uncertainty and drive up health care costs for families.” Donnelly urged Congress and the White House to work to improve the law and stabilize the health care markets. Such bipartisan effort to fix flaws in the law has not happened since its passage in 2010.

The administration’s latest political tactic affects real people.

More than 1 million Hoosiers under age 65 have pre-existing medical conditions that could subject them to a loss of coverage or high rates without the ACA’s most popular provisions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. People with cancer, diabetes, asthma and chronic diseases are among those considered to have pre-existing conditions.

Also, ACA funds were used by several states — including Indiana under former Gov. Mike Pence (now the vice president) — to expand Medicaid coverage, which millions of veterans have come to rely upon. As a result, the rate of uninsured veterans under 65 fell 42 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to the National Health Interview Survey.

Indiana should remove itself from the lawsuit calling for the federal courts to strike down the ACA. Instead, the Hoosier state government should pour its energies into helping other states and Congress adapt the health care law, with Indiana as a role model. Pence and Indiana implemented a Medicaid expansion — funded by President Obama’s law — that requires recipients to contribute to a health savings account.

###