With the rush to replace Justice Ginsburg on SCOTUS, Republicans are hoping to check off many of their judicial wish-list items. One of those items is the lawsuit to overturn the ACA in its entirety. That case will be taken up shortly after this year’s election. North Dakota rushed to join that lawsuit without much explanation to the public and how it would impact their health care. Then, the ND Legislature failed to do its part.

In the middle of a pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans, there are North Dakota politicians actively trying to remove protections for pre-existing conditions. Maybe worse, they have failed to establish a replacement plan if the Court does as they have long hoped. Years of cheering on the overturn of ACA are the same years spent wasted without a viable alternative.

In 2019, an amendment was offered by Democrat Rep. Rick Holman and accepted in the Insurance Departments budget. It caught many ND politicians off guard. That amendment would have put protections for preexisting conditions in state law should ACA be overturned. Planning ahead, what a novel idea in government. After some nervous chatter from Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread and angry Republicans including Rep. Rick Becker on the House floor, the protections were stripped out of the budget and turned into a “study.”

Here is a list of ND representatives that voted against SB2010 once the Holman amendment was adopted: Rick Becker; Larry Bellew; Jake Blum; Jeff Delzer; Bill Devlin; Sebastian Ertelt; Clayton Fegley; Jay Fisher; Craig Headland; Jeff Hoverson; Craig Johnson; Mary Johnson; Terry Jones; Tom Kading; Jim Kasper; George Keiser; Ben Koppelman; Scott Louser; Jeff Magrum; Andrew Marschall;  Aaron McWilliams; Lisa Meier; Gary Paur; Todd Porter; Karen Rohr; Dan Ruby; Matthew Ruby; Mike Schatz; Luke Simons; Kathy Skroch; Vicky Steiner; Nathan Toman; Steve Vetter.

Of those Republicans that voted against the Insurance Commissioner’s budget because it included state protections for pre-existing conditions, here are the ones seeking reelection in 2020:

Clayton Fegley

Terry Jones

Their spin has ultimately been that North Dakota can do a better job protecting people with preexisting conditions. I wrote during the 2018 campaign, “There is no guarantee the State of North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner who backs the lawsuit, the Governor who backs the lawsuit, nor the Legislature would work to reinstate protections once they’re thrown out.” They had a chance in the 2019 legislative session and they failed to do their part.

Last week, I asked if a covid-19 diagnosis could be considered a pre-existing condition. The verdict is still out. But, there is growing concern that it very well could be. What happens if insurance protections are thrown out for the millions who have had the virus? Don’t ask Senator Kevin Cramer. Last year, he admitted he has no clue what will happen to people’s insurance if the Court strikes down all of ACA.

Much like Senator John Hoeven proved earlier this week his word means little, do not buy the expected claim NDGOP lawmakers will protect the popular and necessary provisions when it comes to your healthcare. They too have proved their word means little by their actions. Lawmakers had their opportunity and they refused to do what they claimed they wanted to voters. Here is the bottom line: North Dakota’s Legislature, Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, and federal delegation have failed to live up to their word and do their part to protect your coverage for pre-existing conditions. Do you think that will change after the 2020 election and the SCOTUS decision?

Tyler Axness
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