Pruitt filing says health care rules trample on Oklahoma's rights
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, January 25, 2013
1/25/13 at 5:23 PM
Federal rules meant to enforce the Affordable Care Act go beyond the law’s own language and violate Oklahoma’s rights, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt argues in a court filing Friday.
The state’s latest filing in Pruitt’s challenge to the health care law disputes arguments by federal attorneys that Oklahoma has no legal standing in the matter and that the state’s suit has been filed prematurely.
The state’s core argument is that because Oklahoma is not establishing a state health insurance exchange, key elements of the federal law can’t take place here.
The federal health law provides for thousands of people who do not get health coverage through their employers to purchase it through a state health exchange, where they will receive federal subsidies. The payment of a subsidy through a state exchange triggers tax penalties against the employers.
Because Oklahoma isn’t building an exchange, there can be no subsidies and no tax penalties, Pruitt argues.
Federal attorneys have countered that the law provides for a federal exchange in states that don’t build there own, and the two are essentially the same. They also have argued that Oklahoma doesn’t stand to face any penalties under the law, and therefore can’t challenge it and that no challenge can be filed until after tax penalties are actually levied.
In a press release Friday, Pruitt said his suit is about the law, not politics.
“Oklahoma’s lawsuit has never been about the policy or politics of the Affordable Care Act. It is about the legality of what the IRS is doing and ensuring that the federal government complies with implementation of its own law,” Pruitt said.
“The administration miscalculated how many states would support this law, so now they’re trying to push through provisions that Congress did not pass,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt’s latest filing also pushes an earlier argument that the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits any law or rules that compel participation in any health care system.
With Friday’s filing the case may either go to oral arguments or, if U.S. District Judge Ronald White decides arguments aren’t needed, to a ruling.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt