Incoming Oklahoma Attorney General moving forward on health care suit

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December 16, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma: Though his predecessor, Democrat Drew Edmondson, ultimately decided against pursuing litigation against the federal health care reform measure, incoming Republican State Attorney General Scott Pruitt said that he plans on moving forward with the legal action as soon as he takes office.

Edmondson's about-face with the health care lawsuit was quite controversial in the rather conservative state. In the wake of the historic passage of President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation on Christmas Eve in 2009, Edmondson was one of fourteen initial State Attorneys General who questioned not only the constitutionality of a specific controversial provision within the Senate version of the bill, but were also exploring potential legal challenges to the measure as well.[1] The stipulation in question at the time was the back room deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to recruit him as the sixtieth vote needed to pass the measure, an arrangement "dubbed the "Nebraska Compromise" or the "Cornhusker Kickback" by Republican critics." The agreement gave Nebraska exemption from its share of the Medicaid expansion, "a carve out that is expected to cost the federal government $100 million over 10 years."[2]

Despite this initial involvement, Edmondson changed his tune four months later while in the midst of his pursuit for the party nomination in the race for governor; he ultimately lost . Three months after President Obama signed into law his controversial health care reform bill, the one that narrowly passed the United States House of Representatives just two days prior to this, "Edmondson says he decided not to challenge the law after members of his staff spent hundreds of hours examining the 2,500-page bill."[3] He insists to this day that politics played no role in his decision.

Pruitt's announcement that he would continue on with plans to challenge the legality of what has become known as Obamacare came a day after Federal Judge Henry Hudson ruled that portions of the Affordable Patient Protection Act of 2009, also known as the federal health care reform law, were unconstitutional.[4]

Pruitt did add, however, that he has yet to decide "whether to take action here on Oklahoma or join one of the other suits against the law."[5]

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