Policy

Inside the mind of DeWine: Why Ohio will sue over Obamacare

Ohio’s newly elected Attorney General Mike DeWine wasted little time making good on a campaign pledge to fight last year’s controversial federal health reform law.

Ohio’s newly elected Attorney General Mike DeWine wasted little time making good on a campaign pledge to fight last year’s controversial federal healthcare reform law.

Last week, DeWine, a Republican, informed his counterpart in Florida that Ohio would join 20 other states that have already signed on to a legal challenge to the law — called the Affordable Care Act but more widely known as Obamacare.

DeWine, like most conservatives who oppose the law, has taken aim at a provision called the individual mandate, which requires that most Americans purchase health insurance or face a penalty.

Last week, DeWine told Fox News that if the federal government can require people to buy insurance, nothing can stop the government from forcing people to exercise 45 minutes a day or eat spinach daily, The Hill reported.

“If they can do this, there is no stopping what the federal government can do,” DeWine said. “There is absolutely no limit. A lot is at stake. Not just the healthcare bill, there is a lot at stake.”

Asked by Fox why Ohio is joining in the suit, DeWine gave three reasons:

  1. He pledged during his campaign to do it
  2. Ohio is a “major state” with “a lot at stake” in the health reform-debate
  3. He believes adding Ohio to the list of approximately 20 other states helps to give the challenge “some weight”

DeWine’s challenge of health reform is a reversal from his Democratic predecessor Richard Cordray. Cordray said last year that he believed the various lawsuits that challenge health reform don’t “have any merit whatsoever,” so participating would be “a waste of taxpayer resources.”

Ironically, conservatives’ challenges to the individual mandate — a key provision required to preserve America’s privatized healthcare system, a concept dear to nearly all conservatives’ hearts — would likely result in the crumbling of that very system, if successful. Insurance companies demanded the individual mandate in return for extending insurance coverage to millions more Americans, and no longer denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Take away the individual mandate, and insurers have little choice but to jack up their prices to offset the shortfall caused by people dropping coverage. If that happens, get ready for some white-hot anger from the American public that would get the United States on the road to undoing its private health system.

This irony was not lost on Washington Post columnist Matt Miller, who wrote last year that Republicans’ tactics to fight Obamacare would “backfire.”

“So, conservatives, be careful what you wish for,” Miller wrote. “By fighting the mandate needed to make private insurance solutions work, and doing nothing to ease the health cost burden on everyday Americans, you’ll hasten the day when the public throws up its hands and says, ‘Just give us single-payer and price controls.'”

Who’d have ever thought that the progressives who push a single-payer, government-run health system would find an ally in conservative Republicans?