Opinion by Jeff Landry, Attorney General of Louisiana
Recently, I participated in a national TV interview on CNN regarding an important lawsuit. I joined this lawsuit with 17 other Attorneys General and two Governors on the legality of the Affordable Care Act. It is an important topic.
Unfortunately, while our lawsuit is focused solely on the rule of law, the television producers used my time on air in a farcical attempt just to attack the strategy and get a soundbite. Though I anticipated some sky-is-falling hysteria that has become a staple of extremists when discussing the ACA, I felt strongly someone needed to get the truth to CNN’s flailing audience.
That truth is the Republican state officials who signed onto this suit are resolved in our efforts to fight unconstitutional policies, and we understand that the remains of the unconstitutional ACA need to be dismantled before their inevitable collapse does any further damage to families and businesses.
Rising costs, undesirable plans, and declining choices have been the status quo since the 2,300-page ACA was forced onto the American people. While a fortunate few in Louisiana may finally see, for the first time since 2011, less painful premium hikes – we know something different must be done to reduce the crippling financial burdens and to ensure our people can once again have the freedom to choose their own doctors.
But make no mistake about it: those involved in the lawsuit are not attacking sound law based on its policy failures. Policy decisions are for the Legislative Branch, which is something the Governor and his allies had to learn the hard way when I became Attorney General.
The ACA is unconstitutional. When the Supreme Court ruled on NFIB v. Sebelius – they found the individual mandate unlawful on its own, but legally permissible if attached to the federal government’s taxing authority. And since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has been signed into law, the tax penalty has been removed and the mandate now stands alone.
The hoops that the Supreme Court jumped through to uphold the individual mandate telegraphed the true extent of the ACA’s constitutional problems. Now that those hoops have been removed, the rule of law must prevail and the ACA must fall. This should be welcomed by all who cherish the Constitution and support our great republic.
If our lawsuit is successful and the ACA is removed from the books, states will be allowed to implement their own healthcare plans for their own citizens. Maine may be able to employ its previously preempted framework; Nebraska may realize the full potential of its direct primary care option for state workers; and most importantly, Louisiana – through our Legislature – would be free to enact rules and restrictions without fear of conflict pre-emption. In essence, Louisiana could use a system that works for Louisiana.
While I, like the overwhelming majority of my fellow Republicans, believe those with pre-existing conditions should be protected; I know that decision is up to our Legislature. If our lawsuit is successful, our own Legislature will craft future regulations and policies. Our own Louisiana House and Senate can work on better solutions to our healthcare problems, right here in our State. I stand ready to assist them.
As I have done since filing the lawsuit in February, I will continue discussions with our legislators. And as I have always done, I will keep fighting against government overreach and keep doing all that I legally can to make Louisiana an even better place to live, work, and raise our families.
Jeff Landry is the Attorney General of Louisiana. Originally from St. Martinsville, General Landry holds a Law Degree from Loyola University, he is a veteran of Desert Storm, and a former member of the United States House of Representatives. www.agjefflandry.com