Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he filed a brief opposing a case that would strike down the entire 2010 Affordable Care Act because he believes that certain provisions in the law — such as one protecting pre–existing conditions — should remain.
“If a patient has a tumor, you don’t kill the patient,” Yost told a panel hosted by Axios, a Washington, D.C.–based news organization Wednesday. “You cut the tumor out and that’s what we think should happen here.”
Yost drew national attention Monday when he and fellow Republican Timothy Fox, the attorney general of Montana, filed an amicus brief with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking the judges to preserve portions of the Affordable Care Act. That position is at odds with many of his fellow Republicans, President Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who as Ohio attorney general joined a lawsuit seeking to overturn the health care law. DeWine has since said he supports protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions.
A U.S. District Court judge in Texas threw out the entire health-care law — commonly known as Obamacare — in December, saying it was unconstitutional after Congress eliminated the “individual mandate” tax penalty for failing to obtain health insurance. Yost’s filing came in an appeal of that ruling.
Yost argues that while the act’s individual mandate doesn’t pass constitutional muster, other provisions of the law should be preserved.
“We agree on the essential point which is that the individual mandate under the current configuration is unconstitutional,” he said, but said “if the entire act is struck down in Ohio, we’ve got 1.9 million non-elderly citizens who have pre-existing conditions, for example, that the protections under the act would go away.”
Yost said he’s more inclined to push reforms such as being able to buy plans across state lines and market–based reforms. The current system, he said, “is an incredibly closed, arcane system.”
“The reason we got involved in this lawsuit is its impact on Ohio and the people I serve,” he said.
He said he is confident that parts of the law will ultimately survive.
“Ultimately, the district court’s decision striking down the entire (Affordable Care Act) is not likely to survive all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said.