A Second Judge Rules against White House on Obamacare Subsidies

by | October 1, 2014

By Chris Casteel

A U.S. district judge in Muskogee has sided with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt against the U.S. government in the state's lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.

Pruitt's suit, like similar ones in other states and the District of Columbia, claimed the IRS improperly allowed subsidies for insurance coverage purchased in states that have health care exchanges operated by the U.S. government.

U.S. District Judge Ronald A. White has had the state case for two years. But his ruling on Tuesday came after the same issue has already made it through two federal appeals courts _ one in Virginia and one in the District of Columbia _ and is now awaiting consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The two appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the same day in July.

In his ruling, White relied on the District of Columbia appeals court, which narrowly ruled that the Affordable Care Act specifies that federal subsidies are available to people who purchase health care insurance through a state exchange, or marketplace.

The IRS formulated a rule in 2012 that applied the subsidies to those who purchased insurance on federal exchanges as well. Most states, including Oklahoma, chose not to establish their own exchanges so millions of dollars in subsidies have been flowing to people who purchased insurance on federal exchanges.

Pruitt said, "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.

",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."

Pruitt said the issue would likely 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," Pruitt said.

(c)2014 The Oklahoman