INDIANAPOLIS | A Democratic state lawmaker is warning that all Hoosiers will lose if Indiana wins its latest lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
State Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, who is an attorney, said the lawsuit filed Tuesday by Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller goes beyond seeking an exemption for state and local governments from the "employer mandate." The mandate is a tax penalty on employers with more than 50 workers that fail to provide adequate health insurance.
He said Zoeller and Republican Gov. Mike Pence also want to overturn a federal rule allowing individuals who buy private insurance on the federally run Indiana marketplace to obtain subsidies if their incomes are less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
Standing outside an Indianapolis hospital Wednesday, Delaney said Indiana is arguing that because it didn't set up a state-run marketplace, Hoosiers are not eligible for the subsidies and all employers, not just government employers, cannot be penalized if they don't provide essential health benefits.
"The economic policy of the state of Indiana as decreed by Mike Pence and his attorney general is to deprive everyone of health insurance," Delaney said. "They want our people all to be uninsured or pay 100 percent of the premium."
Zoeller's lawsuit does in fact claim that Pence's decision to forgo a state-operated marketplace was "a policy decision that would create a hospitable business environment," and requiring large Indiana businesses to provide health insurance interferes with the state's sovereign right to set public policy.
Delaney said he is angry the governor's business development plan is apparently to attract companies that don't want to provide benefits for their workers.
"They are trying to compete with Bangladesh," Delaney said. "Is that business development? It's degrading ... I'm upset by the lack of human compassion."
He called on Zoeller to immediately withdraw his lawsuit and work instead to encourage Hoosiers to take advantage of the health law that their federal taxes are paying for and whose benefits are being realized in other states.
Ironically, Chief Judge Richard Young, of the Indianapolis federal court, has put Zoeller's lawsuit, and nearly all recently filed federal cases, on hold due to the federal government shutdown — caused in part by House Republicans demanding that any spending plan eliminate or delay Obamacare.