Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has added North Dakota to a lawsuit that places politics ahead of the life and health of the people of our state. This suit, brought by some state attorneys general, aims to throw out major parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the critically important guarantee that people with preexisting medical conditions must be able to obtain health insurance.
Guaranteeing health insurance to everyone, regardless of preexisting conditions, is one of the most popular features of the ACA. A recent survey shows that 70 percent of the population, including 59 percent of Republicans, support this consumer protection. As a family physician I have seen firsthand the hardships faced by patients with cancer and heart disease, and children born with serious health problems who were denied affordable health insurance because of their illnesses.
In North Dakota over 300,000 people, 40,000 of them children, have preexisting medical conditions. If successful, Stenhejem’s lawsuit would allow insurance companies once again to deny them coverage or charge astronomical rates. This would be devastating for many North Dakota families.
Because of this potentially devastating impact major medical associations, including family physicians, pediatricians and psychiatrists, as well as the American Nurses Association and patient groups such as the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, have spoken out against this lawsuit; other state attorneys general oppose it in court.
Perhaps Stenhejem can sleep at night with his indefensible action, but if this suit is successful thousands of North Dakotans who have or may develop preexisting conditions will not be so fortunate.
Dr. Charles Christianson, Grand Forks