Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt hailed the state’s victory in its lawsuit challenging the implementation of the Affordable Care Act saying, “Today’s ruling is a consequential victory for the Rule of Law. The administration and its bureaucrats in the IRS handed out billions in illegal tax credits and subsidies and vastly expanded the reach of the health care law because they didn’t like the way Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act. That’s not how our system of government works.”
Governor Fallin agreed saying, “For years, I have argued that Obamacare represents bad policy, irresponsible spending, an outrageous expansion of federal authority into the private sector, and unconstitutional law. Since 2012, the state of Oklahoma has been fighting the implementation of the ACA, both to protect our citizens from the negative effects of this law – including devastating cuts to Medicare — and to stand up for Constitutional principles.
Attorney General Pruitt said. “The Obama administration created this problem and rather than having an agency like the IRS rewrite a law it didn’t like, the administration should have done the right thing and worked with Congress to amend the law. Oklahoma was the first to challenge the administration’s actions and today’s ruling vindicates what we recognized early on and that is the administration can’t rewrite the Affordable Care Act by executive fiat.”
In September 2012, Oklahoma challenged the legality of an IRS rule that caused billions in illegal subsidies to be paid out, despite Congress having never authorized those payments.
Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ronald White ruled in favor of the state’s lawsuit challenging that IRS rule. Oklahoma’s lawsuit challenges an IRS rule that called for 1) tax subsidies to be issued in states like Oklahoma without a state-based health care exchange and 2) assessed “large employer” penalties in states that did not establish state health care exchanges. Both parts of the rule contradict the language of the ACA, which plainly states that tax subsidies can only be issued and tax penalties are only to be assessed in states that established state-based health care exchanges.
The ruling in the Eastern District of Oklahoma can be appealed by the Department of Justice to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Click here for a copy of the judge’s order.
“Today’s ruling is a huge win for Oklahoma, but it’s just a first step. Since Oklahoma filed the first lawsuit in 2012, others have followed our lead and made similar claims in other jurisdictions. It’s likely this issue will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. We look forward to making our case and continuing the effort to hold federal agencies accountable to their duty to enforce the laws passed by Congress,” Attorney General Pruitt said.
Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements, expressed support today for the ruling noting that Attorney General Pruitt testified in July 2013 before Lankford’s House Oversight Subcommittee.
“Once again, Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt deserves our state’s gratitude for his diligent work on behalf of Oklahomans against the Administration’s overreach and redefinition of the Affordable Care Act,” said Lankford. “I am glad we have such a zealous advocate for our state in the court room, as the Obama Administration attempts to reinterpret the law when the text of the law doesn’t work for their purposes.
“When Attorney General Pruitt laid out the facts of the Oklahoma case in my Oversight Subcommittee last year, no one from the Administration could detail how they made the decision to ignore the plain text of the law. Ultimately, the court ruled that the law means what the law says, not what any federal agency wants the law to say.
“The blame for the latest mess in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act lies squarely on the shoulders of the federal legislators who wrote a law that clearly prevents any tax credits from being used for any federal health exchange. As I have said before, the ACA is not only bad healthcare policy, but also a poorly written healthcare law. My focus remains on healthcare solutions that immediately return decision-making authority back to patients, families and the states, so they can administer health care for their communities,” concluded Lankford.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak also released a statement that says in part, “Today’s ruling from Judge White is a victory that affirms our belief in the rule of law. The courts have found out exactly what’s in the law and are ensuring that the administration follows the law as it was passed by Congress. Thanks to General Pruitt’s leadership we are one step closer to ensuring the Obamacare shipwreck impacts as few Oklahomans as possible.”
Attorney General Pruitt expressed thanks to the attorneys in the AG’s Office who worked on this case saying, “I want to thank Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick and the attorneys in our federalism unit for their dedication and outstanding legal work on this important case.”