PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Monday the state joined Texas’ lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act because the law also known as Obamacare was “constitutionally dubious.”
“As the attorney general, I’m not a policy maker, but I am here to ensure that whatever branch of government breaks the law, that they’re held accountable,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.
Despite his active opposition to a law passed in 2010 that ensures people with pre-existing conditions can get medical insurance, Brnovich said he believes in those protections.
“I would just urge [policy makers], whether it’s the Legislature here or Congress, to make sure that they’re doing things to protect people’s pre-existing conditions and they come up with some sort of plan that’s both necessary and constitutional.”
In February, Arizona became one of 19 Republican-led states to join Texas in the lawsuit.
That was before Obamacare, and its protections for pre-existing medical conditions, became a key issue in the November elections.
Across the nation, voters most concerned with health care supported Democrats overwhelmingly.
In Arizona, Republican U.S. Rep. Martha McSally’s record of voting to repeal Obamacare is considered a major factor in her loss to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in their Senate race.
“Mark Brnovich is putting his own ideology ahead of the lives and livelihoods of millions of Arizonans,” Les Braswell, communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a press release.
“Arizonans made clear that they don’t want politicians undermining their access to health care, and that’s exactly what Mark Brnovich is doing.”
For now, Brnovich is on the right side of the case after a federal judge in Texas ruled last week that the health law is unconstitutional.
“The reality is the court agreed with our lawsuit, and now it will be up to the policy makers … to come up with plans to address these medical issues that are constitutional,” Brnovich said.
However, the ruling has little immediate practical impact because the ACA remains in place while the legal battle continues, possibly to the Supreme Court.
The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said that if the law is ultimately overturned, then members of Congress from both parties should start over, working together.
He urged maintaining provisions such as protections for pre-existing medical conditions, no lifetime dollar limits on insurance coverage, and allowing young adults to stay on parental coverage until age 26.
Democrats were united in condemning the ruling.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said voters will remember. “What will stand is Republican ownership of such a harmful and disastrous lawsuit,” Schumer tweeted.
The next chapter in the legal case could take months to play out.
A coalition of Democratic state officials led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will appeal O’Connor’s decision, most likely to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.
“The legal merits of the case are frivolous,” said University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley.
“The notion that the unconstitutionality of an unenforceable mandate somehow requires toppling the entire ACA is bonkers.”
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar and The Associated Press contributed to this report.