Congressman Dan Kildee on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s anti-ACA crusade


I spoke with Rep. Kildee about AG Schuette’s decision to join an anti-ACA lawsuit that could cost Michiganders millions.

Last week, the news broke that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette had signed on to a federal lawsuit that would raise taxes by eliminating tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). So far, 86 percent of the Michiganders who purchased policies through have received tax credits to help cover their costs. I wrote about the lawsuit here, questioning AG Schuette’s desire to penalize Michigan residents and likely leave many without health insurance.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) has now spoken out against Schuette’s decision, issuing a release headlined “I Can’t Comprehend Why Michigan’s Attorney General Wants to Raise Taxes on Michigan Residents.”

From the release:

If Bill Schuette’s lawsuit is successful — which I hope it is not — my constituents stand to lose. Michiganders would see their taxes raised by thousands of dollars and also face drastically higher healthcare costs. The Attorney General is supposed to protect all Michigan consumers, not merely file lawsuits to score political points and pander to the Tea Party.

I spoke with Rep. Kildee, who elaborated on his position.

It’s beyond my comprehension that politics have devolved to this point. Bill Schuette is using money derived from Michigan taxpayers to take tax dollars away from Michigan residents. It’s the epitome of arrogance to put politics ahead of the interests of the people who elected him.

If AG Schuette and the other plaintiffs prevail in Halbig v. Sebelius, one estimate puts the cost to Michigan consumers at $2.5 billion in lost tax credits under the ACA. Eliminating the tax credits would cost Michigan families an average of $2,700 each, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

What’s more, it’s unclear what would happen to Michigan residents who have already received tax credits. I asked Rep. Kildee if consumers would have to pay back those tax credits. Here’s his response.

[The plaintiffs would] have to ask the court to issue an order directing the IRS to seek recovery of the tax support that Michigan residents have received for healthcare. I have a hard time figuring out where they’re going with this, unless it’s a cynical talking point lawsuit that occupies the time of the federal court with something that’s simply intended to help Republican attorneys general represent how extreme they are.

I also asked if a win by the plaintiffs would result in some Michigan residents losing their healthcare coverage. Rep. Kildee answered “yes,” because the lawsuit “undermines the architecture of the ACA to make healthcare more expensive.”

Even more exasperating is the fact that the lawsuit is built around a technicality. The lawsuit exploits language in the ACA that refers to tax credits being available “through an Exchange established by the State.” Rep. Kildee pointed out that this technicality was caused by Michigan’s refusal to create its own state marketplace — a move led by Michigan Republicans, including AG Schuette.

Rep. Kildee said that, like any law, the ACA could be improved on if Congress were functioning the way it’s supposed to. But “there’s a lack of willingness on the part of Republicans to make the law work and implement what’s an important step forward,” he said.

There’s another way AG Schuette could make his point, added Rep. Kildee, without costing the taxpayers money.

If Attorney General Schuette wants to say how much he doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act, he should buy an ad. Don’t sue to increase the taxes on Michigan residents and prevent them from getting affordable healthcare. Buy an ad in the paper or start a blog.

[Photo credit: Official Congressional portrait]