Louisiana’s Democratic governor is denouncing the state’s Republican attorney general for jumping into a lawsuit aimed at cratering the Affordable Care Act.
Governor John Bel Edwards said Tuesday that the Texas-based lawsuit threatens health coverage for the roughly 849,000 Louisiana adults with pre-existing medical conditions. He blasted Attorney General Jeff Landry for joining the Texas-based lawsuit without his consultation.
“It would have been helpful if I could have gotten the heads-up,” Edwards told BRProud.com on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, that’s not the way the attorney general chooses to work.”
Landry joined the litigation in February, with Republican officials from 19 other states. They claim Congress’ repeal last year of the “individual mandate” — namely the tax penalty for those who don’t register for insurance starting in 2019 — renders the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The state’s chief legal officer defended his stance Monday on CNN, rekindling the governor’s outrage.
“We’ve seen this experiment, and it’s done nothing but raise premiums and cost government billions,” Landry said in the interview. “The law was always flawed.”
The attorney general suggested that protecting residents with pre-existing conditions is a matter for the state, not the federal government.
“By engaging the marketplace — by ripping down the barriers state by state and allowing health care insurers to compete, by bringing more competition into the market — you’re going to lower those particular premiums,” he told CNN. “I think that would be a debate we would have at the Capitol, and the Legislature would make that particular determination.”
Edwards argued Landry was thin on specifics, questioning whether state lawmakers would address pre-existing conditions as thoroughly as the Affordable Care Act has.
“It’s hard for the Louisiana Legislature to craft the type of protections already in existence by virtue of the federal law,” he said. “This is just too important for us to proceed willy-nilly without having a plan to protect these individuals.”
Looking to secure a plan should the lawsuit succeed, Edwards is urging House Speaker Taylor Barras to draft legislation to ensure that Louisianans with pre-existing conditions would keep their coverage.
“This strong, public show of support from both you and the attorney general would ensure its passage and provide peace of mind to the 849,000 individuals who will await the court’s decision,” the governor wrote Tuesday in a letter sent to Barras.
Edwards and Landry have sparred over numerous issues since both took office in 2016. The Republican attorney general is openly considering challenging the Democrat in the 2019 governor’s race.