If Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry were a volunteer firefighter, he’d be the guy who sets fire to the back of a house, then runs around to the front and makes a show of grabbing the first water hose — just as a news camera arrived. He’d also be the only firefighter to call himself a “hero” for his efforts.
The latest example of Landry’s faux heroics is his push for a bill in the state Legislature to protect Louisianans with pre-existing medical conditions in the event health insurers try to deny them coverage or charge unaffordable premiums. That’s the water hose.
The truth is that no one with pre-existing conditions would have to worry about losing coverage or facing higher premiums if Landry hadn’t joined a federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, which is how people with pre-existing conditions got coverage in the first place. That’s the fire set by Landry.
The suit, joined by Republican AGs from 19 states, hinges on the ACA’s requirement that people carry health insurance or face a penalty. Congress repealed that mandate; now the lawsuit claims the entire law is unconstitutional. A federal judge in Texas agreed, and the case is before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Soon after he took office in 2017, President Donald Trump famously bemoaned the difficulty of replacing the Affordable Care Act, which he had …
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who oversaw the expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana under the ACA, has rightly blasted Landry’s involvement in the lawsuit. Edwards and Landry both support legislative efforts to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but only the Landry-backed bill has gained traction. That’s Landry claiming heroics for the cameras.
“It’s ironic that the Attorney General wants to try and take credit for fixing a problem that he himself caused,” Edwards said in a statement, “by involving the state in a lawsuit that eliminates protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
Simply put, if Landry hadn’t helped set the fire, he wouldn’t have to grab a hose.
While “Obamacare” has been demonized by the GOP, most Americans love major parts of it — especially requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 30 percent of Louisianans have pre-existing conditions that could let insurers decline to cover them.
Louisiana lawmakers on Wednesday began hearings on competing bills by two powerful political rivals that would enshrine in state law some of t…
The most laughable part of Landry’s argument is his claim that Louisiana could regulate health insurers better than the federal government. “State-based innovation," Landry has said, “is the best way to lower costs for patients, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and improve the quality of care for all Louisiana families.”
That’s nonsense. The ACA is far from perfect, but it already works in many ways, and it can be improved. More than 465,000 Louisianans now have health care because of its expansion. We had generations of “state-based innovation” before the ACA was enacted — and some of the poorest health outcomes in the nation.
Louisiana was not obligated in any way to join the federal lawsuit. Landry acted against the wishes of Edwards and against the interests of more than a million Louisianans. The next time Landry crows about his fight against the Obamacare inferno, Louisianans should remember who started the fire.