AG’s Federalism Unit files against Affordable Care Act

Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed an amended complaint Wednesday in Oklahoma federal court, challenging the implementation of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

“Oklahoma is in a unique position with the only active lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act to hold the federal government accountable in how it implements the law,” Pruitt said. “Now that the Supreme Court has deemed the ACA a tax, and therefore constitutional, the federal government must follow the law and proper procedures, and that is not being done.”   

The original lawsuit, filed in January 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, challenged the health care act’s constitutionality under the Commerce Clause, specifically whether the federal government had the power to mandate individuals to buy health insurance as simply a condition of being a citizen. Oklahoma’s lawsuit was stayed by Judge Ronald White until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Florida case.   

In June, the Supreme Court sided with the states, agreeing that the health care law had exceeded its power under the Commerce Clause, but the Court gave authority to implement the individual mandate as a tax under Congress’ Taxing Power.

Following the decision, General Pruitt filed a request with Judge White to lift the stay on the Oklahoma case, so new issues related to implementation of the act could be addressed. The judge granted the request last week, lifting the stay.   

With Oklahoma’s lawsuit still at the district level, the state can amend the complaint, which would not be allowed with cases on appeal.

Among the issues raised in the complaint is a new IRS rule that violates the Administrative Procedures Act and conflicts with the ACA. Oklahoma also is asking the Court to recognize that because the Supreme Court deemed the health care act’s individual mandate a tax that it no longer conflicts with Oklahoma’s constitutional provision that no law or rule can “compel any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system.”

For a copy of the original and amended complaints or the state’s motion to lift the stay, go online to