(Editors' note: In January, as Gov. John Kasich was about to leave office after eight years, we called his expansion of Medicaid in the state one of his administration's most important accomplishments. This editorial, from The Toledo Blade, commends fellow Republican David Yost, now Ohio's attorney general, for opting against joining a lawsuit that seeks to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the law that allowed Kasich to bring health care coverage to 700,000 more Ohioans. We share the Blade's view.)
Regardless of how the courts rule when they decide on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare, Ohio Attorney General David Yost has put the state on the right side of policy.
Yost, a Republican, opted not to join the Republican-led lawsuit aimed at kicking the legs out from under what remains of the ACA and has joined the opposition to the lawsuit.
His reasoning is that we need the Affordable Care Act because it is a vehicle to provide medical coverage to some 700,000 Ohioans who cannot afford the private insurance market. Medicaid expansion was a major accomplishment of Gov. John Kasich's two terms in office, in which he stood up to the extreme conservative wing of his party that opposed the expansion.
The expansion was the federal government allowing families at up to 38% above the poverty level to qualify for Medicaid coverage of health treatment. That coverage is almost entirely underwritten by the U.S. government, with Ohio taxpayers carrying a modestly increasing proportion.
Obamacare is also the reason people with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be refused insurance and why young people up to the age of 26 can stay on their parents' insurance.
In truth, the ACA was not a model of how legislation should be crafted or enacted; it was done in haste and without any Republican buy-in. But it's the law, and Republicans, despite eight years of being fully or partially in control of Congress, have produced no plan to replace it other than repeal.
The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to rule in the next two months on the case brought by 18 GOP-majority states to strike down the entire law. Yost is one of two Republican attorneys general, along with Tim Fox of Montana, who refused to join the party-line posse.
Yost and Fox have filed a brief with the appeals court asking it to uphold the ACA. They say aggressive court action against the ACA puts Republican judges in the category in which conservatives put liberal judges -- activists.
The legal issue before the courts is the claim the entire law cannot stand if one of its key provisions, the individual mandate, has been repealed. The GOP-controlled Congress in 2017 reduced to zero the penalty on Americans who do not have health insurance. Yost and Smith argue the mandate must be severable from the Affordable Care Act because Congress did the severing.
Ohioans need the protections enshrined in this law until Congress can devise a new and better health-care coverage law. The likelihood of Republicans and Democrats doing that in an election year is unlikely.
By his refusal to join the ACA demolition squad and by arguing to the contrary, Yost is following in the footsteps of Governor Kasich on behalf of his constituents.
THE TOLEDO BLADE
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