LIMA — Mayor David Berger wants State Attorney General Mike DeWine to take action to protect aspects of Obamacare threatened by conservative politicians at the federal and state levels.
During a small rally in downtown Lima Friday afternoon, Berger — joined by representatives from Allen & Hardin for Election Action & Democracy and the local chapter of Young Black Democrats — called on DeWine to take a stance in his dual roles of state attorney general and candidate for Ohio’s governor.
As Ohio’s current attorney general, Berger said DeWine should join the 16 attorneys general who are organizing to defend provisions of Obamacare that ban insurance companies from denying coverage from individuals with pre-existing conditions.
The Affordable Care Act is currently facing legal challenge from 20 attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who claim that Obamacare’s individual mandate — the section of the law that requires everyone to have health insurance or face penalties — is unconstitutional.
If the challenge is accepted in federal court, some of the more popular standards of Obamacare, including the clause that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage, would have no legal standing.
President Donald Trump’s administration through the Justice Department has said it will not defend the law. Instead, a number of state attorneys general, many of them Democrats, said they will take up the responsibility to defend the law’s constitutionality in federal court.
Berger asked DeWine, as Ohio’s attorney general, to join them. DeWine’s Democratic rival in the governor’s race, Richard Cordray, made a similar plea.
Gov. John Kasich said Ohio should be active in defending the law, but he did not call on DeWine to do so.
Berger also said DeWine, as candidate for Ohio governor, should agree to keep Ohio’s Medicaid expansion on the books, which was approved during Gov. John Kasich’s administration. DeWine has said he would make some changes to Ohio’s Medicaid expansion as it is today, such as instituting block granting and adding a work requirement, if he were elected.
Berger said he has firsthand experience dealing with the difficulties of the health care system before Obamacare was in place. His daughter, Monica Berger, died of cancer when she was 28 in 2011, and during that time, the Berger family had to deal with the financial burden even after Monica’s coworkers ended up donating a year of their sick leave to help her.
“We lived through that period of enormous anxiety,” he said. “Nobody should have to deal with that. People should be able to buy health care affordably.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.