In a letter to ND AG Wayne Stenehjem, Dem-NPL leaders outline damages for hundreds of thousands of North Dakotans if critical protections are removed

(BISMARCK, ND) — Today, the leadership of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL caucussent a letter to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem demanding he remove North Dakota as a party to a lawsuit that would remove critical protections for hundreds of thousands of North Dakotans and strip away health coverage for tens of thousands who gained coverage through the state’s Medicaid expansion.

“Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, by joining this lawsuit, is actively working to remove critical protections for over 316,000 North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions and kicking over 20,000 people off the bipartisan Medicaid expansion,” said North Dakota House Minority Leader Corey Mock. “It’s not just bad policy, but it’s a cruel and inappropriate move meant to score political points. It is Congress’ job to keep what is right and fix what is wrong with health care policy. I urge our Republican colleagues — including candidates for state and federal office — to join Democratic-NPL leaders to apply our attention and resources to find sensible, bipartisan solutions to this growing, nonpartisan problem.”

Watch the press conference here.

Text of the letter is below and can be viewed on the Dem-NPL website.

Honorable Wayne Stenehjem
North Dakota Attorney General
600 E. Boulevard Ave Dept. 125
Bismarck ND 58505

Dear Mr. Stenehjem,

We correspond with you today to formally request that you act immediately in your capacity as North Dakota Attorney General to vacate and discontinue any actions that you have taken, and are taking, to include the State of North Dakota as a plaintiff party in the lawsuit styled, Texas et. al. vs. United States et al., as pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Civil Action No. 4:18-cv-00167.

This lawsuit, which is being prosecuted principally by the Attorney General of the State of Texas, would strike down protections people now have under the law that a health insurance company cannot use people’s health insurance against them including pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, the lawsuit would end North Dakotans getting help with health insurance premiums when they cannot afford them and children being able to be on family policies until age 26.

In North Dakota, over 316,000 people with pre-existing conditions are now able to take advantage of protections extended to them by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These people, who suffer from conditions such as cancer or diabetes, would lose the critical ACA safeguards which grant them access to affordable health care insurance coverage, if this lawsuit which you have joined, should be successful. If Judge Reed O’Connor ends up ruling in favor of the attorneys general who have brought this Texas lawsuit, the consequences will be devastating for thousands of working families.

Republican Governor Dalrymple worked to expand Medicaid in our state with bipartisan majorities. Since passed in April 2013, over 22,000 North Dakotans have gained potentially life-saving health coverage through this program made possible by the ACA. Sadly, if this lawsuit brought by attorneys general is favorably ruled upon the tens of thousands of vulnerable North Dakotans who gained coverage through the program will be left without access to health insurance of any kind.

While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, the responsibility for fixing the ACA should be borne by members of the United States Congress, who should responsibly and quickly keep what works in the ACA – such as its protection for those suffering from pre-existing medical conditions – while finding solutions for aspects of the ACA which need to be fixed.

Put simply, this lawsuit in which you now participate is an inappropriate approach to fix what is wrong with our health care system – particularly where your lawsuit seeks to destroy protection for the thousands of North Dakotans who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions – where parties and the other proponents of the suit have no solution or alternative to protect these people who literally face life-and-death consequences from it.

For these reasons, we ask that you immediately act to remove the State of North Dakota as a party to this Texas federal court lawsuit, and that you act forthwith to use cease using resources within your office to challenge and effectively repeal North Dakota Century Code sec. 50-24.1-37, commonly referred to as Medicaid expansion.

Sincerely,

Representative Corey Mock
Minority Leader
North Dakota House of Representatives

Senator Joan Heckaman
Minority Leader
North Dakota Senate