Updated Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.
Indiana’s Attorney General Curtis Hill is one of 20 state officials lobbing a new attack at the Affordable Care Act.
If successful, the lawsuit could mean the end of federal support for Indiana’s Medicaid expansion, which is funded through the Affordable Care Act.
A multi-state lawsuit, filed Monday in a Texas district court, argues the individual mandate — and thus the entire law — is unconstitutional, thanks to new tax laws.
Late last year, Congress ended tax penalties for not obeying the mandate, which requires all U.S. residents buy health insurance.
In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in another legal case. NFIB v. Sebelius ruled the insurance requirement was considered a tax and could be enforced by the federal government. The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit argue because the penalty has been repealed, the individual mandate cannot be considered a “tax” and thus renders the ACA unconstitutional.
“[The Affordable Care Act], as recently amended, forces an unconstitutional and irrational regime onto the States and their citizens,” reads the lawsuit. “Even though Congress sought to do something unconstitutional in enacting the mandate under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court salvaged its handiwork as a lawful exercise of the taxing power.”
The Constitution’s Commerce Clause gives the federal government the right to regulate cross-state business dealings. Conservatives have criticized the government’s broad reading of the Clause as a clear example of government overreach, especially with relation to the Affordable Care Act.
Like Indiana, 19 of the 20 states bringing the lawsuit have Republican governors.
Hill, a Republican, has long been an Affordable Care Act opponent. During his campaign, he called the law a “clear representation of governmental overreach” and criticized its policies as short-sighted and expensive.
Affordable Care Act advocates called the lawsuit a politically motivated effort by Hill to appease Republican voters.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act “would once again allow insurers to discriminate against Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions, re-impose lifetime limits on Hoosiers’ coverage, charge Indiana women more for coverage, impose an age tax on older Hoosiers, and kick young adult Hoosiers under the age of 26 off family coverage,” said Brad Woodhouse, campaign director of Protect Our Care, a pro-Obamacare advocacy organization, in a press release.
Approximately 250,000 Hoosiers gained health coverage through the Healthy Indiana Plan, which expanded Indiana Medicaid to low-income Hoosiers.
Editor's note: The original version of the story stated the lawsuit was being brought by 20 state attorneys general. In fact, it is being brought by 18 attorneys general and two governors, in Maine and Mississippi.
This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a reporting collaborative focused on public health.