The Woodward News

Local News

August 22, 2013

Pruitt discusses ACA lawsuit

Woodward, Okla. — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he believes Oklahoma’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act has merit.

Pruitt believes if the case prevails could “effectively defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

During Pruitt’s nearly hour long meeting with the Woodward News, he also discussed three other high profile issues such as EPA, the abortion drug-RU486 and worker’s compensation fraud.  Those, among other issues, have been priority for his department since he was elected and sworn in January 2011, he said.

On Aug. 12, U.S. District Judge Ronald A. White of the Eastern District of Oklahoma upheld Oklahoma’s right to proceed with its federal lawsuit against the ACA, which was first filed in early 2011.

The health care case, State of Oklahoma v. Sebelius, 11-cv-00030, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Oklahoma (Muskogee), challenges the implementation of the ACA and its ability through the IRS to penalize “large employers” in Oklahoma who do not adhere to the act's “Employer Mandate,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt noted the IRS’s rule would allow it to collect the penalty even though the Affordable Care Act only provides for that penalty to be collected by states which chose to set up an exchange.

Oklahoma did not choose to set up an exchange.

“We believe the merits of the case will stand,” Pruitt said. “No exchange, no penalty. We feel it is an issue of power and authority.”

Pruitt went on to say that this is not the first example of the current administration’s proclivity to overreach a state’s right to self govern.

In this case, Pruitt adds, the IRS rule that allows it to assess the penalty on Oklahoma businesses with over 50 employees isn’t even consistent with what the Affordable Care Act provides in its text.

“Congress provided a choice for Oklahoma and other states in implementation of the health care law, and the IRS is attempting to take that away by rule,” Pruitt said. “The administration miscalculated how many states would support this law, so now they’re using the IRS to push through provisions that Congress did not pass.”

The penalty would amount to $2,000 per employee after the first 30 employees, if the employer does not offer health insurance coverage and even just one of the employees qualifies for a subsidy under the exchange, according to the summary of the OAG’s filing of the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit is not intended to be a policy statement,” Pruitt said. “This lawsuit is also not intended to be a political statement. I have been a businessman and I do think we need to have conversation about healthcare. This lawsuit is about the rule of law.”

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