The Obama administration says it won't enforce many Obamacare provisions. This may actually help Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt challenge the law in court. Pruitt's lawsuit focuses on the first Obamacare provision the administration ignored: the mandate for taxpayer subsidies to be tied to participation in a state-run exchange.
Oklahoma, like the overwhelming majority of states, opted to let the federal government set up an exchange. But the Obamcare law clearly ties subsidies to enrollment through state-run exchanges, not federally run exchanges. The administration has chosen to ignore that fact. Pruitt argues the subsidies don't apply to Oklahoma — and, therefore, neither do associated penalties.
As a large employer impacted by the law's mandates, state government has standing to challenge the law, Pruitt argues. To make his case, he's using the most damning evidence: Obama administration officials' own words.
In a new filing, Pruitt notes that when the Obama administration delayed the employer mandate, the administration “publically acknowledged that the requirements are so ‘complex' that large employers need a full year to figure out how to comply.” That's an “implicit admission” that reporting requirements and other large employer mandates “are in fact injuring large employers such as the State.”
Pruitt notes that “all one must do is look at the hundreds of pages of regulations the federal government has promulgated to understand the disconnect” between what the administration argues to rebut Pruitt's lawsuit in court “and what their regulators are doing elsewhere.” Federal regulations state more than 100 times that large employers are “required” or face “requirements” to do something under the law.
The administration argues that it's fine for the government to ignore the law and even the statements of administration officials, but not citizens. Pruitt is right to argue otherwise. For the rule of law to work, laws must mean what they say — and apply consistently to all.