Who “Asked” North Dakota to Join Health Care Lawsuit?

Following last week’s acknowledgment from Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread that he had “assisted” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in the latest health care lawsuit, I submitted an open record request. I wanted to see what kind of assistance the Insurance Department had offered. Questions need to be answered including who “asked” North Dakota to join the lawsuit?

This lawsuit has been catapulted toward the front of the midterm election due to the potential ramifications of the decision. Democratic candidates are questioning the wisdom of joining a lawsuit without having something in place to keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Also, what happens to Medicaid Expansion? Senator Heitkamp and Congressional candidate Mac Schneider have said the answer to shortfalls is through legislation, not litigation.

Meanwhile, Republican candidates have fallen in-line behind the lawsuit. Congressman Kevin Cramer, who voted approximately 60 times to repeal the ACA, declared he supports Stenehjem’s lawsuit last week. Yesterday, Congressional candidate Kelly Armstrong said he also supports the lawsuit. Armstrong voted against Medicaid Expansion in North Dakota. He joined me on my KFGO radio show.

In reviewing the communication between the Insurance Department and the Attorney General’s office, a line stood out. Chief Deputy Attorney General Troy Seibel emailed Godfread saying “North Dakota has been asked to join in a new challenge to the ACA,” and they wanted Godfread’s thoughts on whether they should join. Missing from the communications I received is who asked North Dakota to join.

Communication between the Attorney General Office and the Insurance Department.

Did the Republican Attorneys General Association ask their member Wayne Stenehjem to join? Was it a special interest group who wants to do away with pre-existing condition protection? Was it the Texas Attorney General who filed the lawsuit? We deserve to know who asked our state to join this lawsuit so we can better understand their motivations. Let’s continue to pursue the answer to that question.

Tyler Axness
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