Obamacare: Burgum is not telling the truth

Adam Hamm

ND Insurance Commissioner

You have no doubt seen the very repetitive television ad claiming that Wayne Stenehjem is a supporter of Obamacare.

It is simply not true. Here is the truth.

Wayne Stenehjem has long opposed Obamacare as yet another example of the Obama administration’s penchant for federal overreach, an unwarranted intrusion into our personal lives and a violation of our constitutional rights.

In April 2010, Wayne was one of the first attorneys general in the country to join the Florida lawsuit to overturn Obamacare. And, Wayne Stenehjem was in the front row when the case was heard by the U.S Supreme Court. In the 2011 North Dakota special legislative session, legislators rightfully chose to not create a state run Obamacare insurance exchange and opted instead to let the federal government manage the Obamacare program in North Dakota. Choosing the federal exchange as the lesser of two evils proved to be the right decision as one state run exchange after another has crashed and burned.

In 2014, opponents of Obamacare made yet another attempt to kill the ill-conceived law in the courts. Their lawsuit was entitled King vs. Burwell and it sought to halt federal tax credits for people who signed up for Obamacare through the federal exchange. The impact of this lawsuit on our state’s policy holders would have been devastating. Over 15,000 North Dakota Obamacare policyholders would have been denied the federal help they counted on to help pay the premiums they were required by law to buy.

Wayne decided that it was unlikely that the Supreme Court would overturn the federal exchange tax credit and, even if it did, the state would have been confronted with establishing their own exchange or Congress would have been forced to find another way to offset the lost tax credits. Republicans in the U.S. Senate simply did not have the votes to repeal Obamacare, a fact we have seen played out dozens of times over the last few years. As a result, Wayne decided to oppose the lawsuit. Wayne’s decision was validated when the high court tossed the lawsuit.

Wayne could have taken the easy route and just sat quietly on the sidelines like so many others did, but North Dakotans were in jeopardy of losing the financial support they counted on when they signed up for health insurance on the federal exchange. Let’s remember, these people were required by federal law to sign up for health insurance and pay premiums. Refusal was not an option. And since most of the people affected were lower income, their family’s financial security would have been threatened by the loss of the federal support.

There is no doubt that Wayne Stenehjem has been consistent in his opposition to Obamacare and has protected North Dakota interests by his actions. Those that falsely claim his support of Obamacare was demonstrated through the King vs. Burwell lawsuit do not have a complete understanding of the situation.