Hot-Button Issues: Affordable Care Attack

Indiana’s attorney general thinks he has the antidote for Obamacare. Prognosis: negative.

Editor’s Note: From gay marriage to Glenda Ritz, Obamacare to Sunday booze, we’re presenting 10 topics that Hoosiers will be fired up about this year—and what you need to know before jumping into heated cocktail-party discussions. See the full list here.

The Skinny

Congressional attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act put the federal government on life support last fall. But with the budget fight over, getting into shape, and coverage taking effect on January 1, it seemed the ACA was in stable condition.

But in Indiana, the fight against Obamacare still has a pulse. In October, Attorney General Greg Zoeller sued the IRS over its imposition of an “employer mandate” on state entities like school districts to provide insurance. The suit, as some Democratic state legislators have pointed out, would also cut off ACA subsidies for thousands of Hoosiers—effectively pulling the plug on the program. Zoeller framed the suit as a defense of states’ rights and small businesses (with political point-scoring merely a positive side effect). “If you’re an opponent of Obamacare, you feel pretty happy Zoeller is fighting the good fight,” says one Statehouse insider. “If you’re a fan [of the ACA], you feel he’s waging a philosophical crusade and putting 300,000 Hoosiers at risk.”

The Players

Zoeller, Gov. Mike Pence, who fought the ACA in Congress and has resisted expanding Medicaid eligibility in Indiana per the law’s guidelines, and Logan Harrison, deputy commish of Pence’s state Department of Insurance, who has been accused of disseminating misleading data on the ACA’s effect on premiums … U.S. District Court judges William T. Lawrence and Tim A. Baker, who have been assigned the case … Sen. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, a vocal critic of Pence and Zoeller’s ACA policies.

   Greg Zoeller         Mike Pence     Ed Delaney   

Players: (l-r) Zoeller, Pence, Delaney

When It Will Go Down

Zoeller and company are still waiting for a decision on the lawsuit. In January, a federal court in Washington, D.C., dismissed a similar claim, and, here at home, State Rep. Tim Harman, R-Bremen, introduced House Bill 1406 in the Indiana General Assembly. The measure would prohibit Indiana from implementing or enforcing Obamacare.

The Upper Hand

Obamacare has outlasted the insurance lobby, conservative super-PACs, and the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s hard to imagine that a suit from Indiana will kill it.

Follow Along

@INATTYGeneral / @EdDeLaney86 / @IndianaLawBlog

A version of this article appeared in the January 2014 issue. Reporting by Craig Fehrman.