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Oklahoma AG amends lawsuit challenging health care law

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt [official website] on Wednesday filed an amended complaint [text, PDF; press release] in the state's lawsuit challenging the federal health care law. In the new complaint, Pruitt maintained the state's challenge to the individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] and additionally challenged new IRS regulations that were put in place to carry out the law. The US Supreme Court [official website] in June ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the PPACA is constitutional, interpreting the government-imposed fees for individuals who fail to purchase health insurance as a tax rather than a criminal penalty. The amended complaint argues that the Supreme Court's interpretation of the PPACA and its individual mandate do not preempt a 2010 amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution [text] ensuring that Oklahoma citizens cannot be compelled by government to purchase health insurance. Oklahoma filed its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the PPACA last year, but the US district court stayed the case pending the Supreme Court's ruling. Pruitt filed a motion to lift the stay [JURIST report] in July. The state is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent enforcement of the PPACA in Oklahoma.

The Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of the PPACA was highly anticipated by both politicians and the general public, and reactions to the ruling have been mixed [JURIST report]. In July Nebraska and six other states announced that they will continue to pursue lawsuits [JURIST report] challenging the act's mandate that employer-provided health insurance plans include coverage for contraception. US President Barack Obama held a press conference [video; transcript text] following the decision praising the court for its ruling. A week before the ruling was announced, a group of news organizations asked the Supreme Court to allow audio and video recording of the announcement of the decision [JURIST report] because of the high amount of public interest in the ruling. The lawsuit challenging the legislation [JURIST report] that was heard before the Supreme Court was brought by 26 states and additional organizations challenging both the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and Medicaid expansion included in the law.

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