The first legal challenges to Obamacare rested on constitutional principles, but a new effort out of Oklahoma goes after the cogs that make the law function. State attorney general Scott Pruitt is trying to block the Internal Revenue Service from imposing fees on employers and individuals who don’t comply with the law’s mandates. In doing so, he may create a way for other states to fight back against the federal government’s top-down management of health care. If the suit succeeds, the law will not be invalidated, but if enough states choose to opt out, the resulting lack of funds could make Obamacare’s financial structure untenable.
“This is a very important case,” Pruitt tells National Review Online. “This is a challenge to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and it matters.”
Yesterday the federal government filed a motion to dismiss Pruitt’s case, challenging Oklahoma’s standing and also citing the Anti-Injunction Act, which prevents people from suing to avoid paying their taxes. The next step is for Pruitt to file a response, which is due December 31.
If Congress wants to apply incentives and fees to both state and federal exchanges, it should change the law, Pruitt says. Until then, Oklahoma will challenge the federal government, claiming it has acted beyond what Congress authorized it to do.