Okla. AG wins first battle in challenge to implementation of Obamacare

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Aug 15, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) -- Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has won the state's first challenge against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, after a federal judge denied the government's motion to dismiss the case.

Judge Ronald White issued his 27-page decision Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Click here to read the judge's full opinion.

"The court rejected the federal government's argument that Oklahoma lacked standing to challenge the law, allowing us to proceed with this pivotal case," Pruitt said in a statement this week.

"We're optimistic the court will recognize what states have known for months that the Internal Revenue Service disregarded the law by making the large employer mandate effective in Oklahoma or in any of the 33 other states without a state health care exchange."

Oklahoma has argued the "burdensome" requirements for large employers give the state standing to bring its lawsuit against President Barack Obama's health care law.

In particular, the state's lawsuit argues that an IRS rule punishes "large employers," including local government, with millions of dollars in tax penalties in states with federal health care exchanges, which is not allowed under the act.

The rule also violates the Administrative Procedures Act, the lawsuit states.

Oklahoma's original suit was filed in January 2011.

Pruitt filed an amended complaint to raise issues related to the law's implementation in September, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last June.

"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."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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