MUSKOGEE — A federal judge in Muskogee has ruled Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt can continue to pursue portions of his legal claims in a lawsuit challenging the federal government's implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Monday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Ronald White allows portions of the lawsuit to move forward, but is not a decision on the merits of the case.
White rejected federal government contentions that Pruitt lacked legal standing to challenge an Internal Revenue Service rule.
The disputed rule would allow the federal government to impose millions of dollars in tax penalties to financially punish local governments and other large employers that refuse to provide the type and quality of health insurance mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
Pruitt contends the IRS should not be allowed to impose its penalties on large employers in Oklahoma and other states that chose not to establish state health care exchanges.
Large employers are described as those that employ 50 or more full-time employees who work 30 or more hours a week.
“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. “We're optimistic the court will recognize what states have known for months — that the IRS 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.”
“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.