The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 28, 2012

Pruitt vows continued fight against national health care law

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the fight will continue to overturn President Barack Obama’s health care law, which was upheld Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pruitt spoke Thursday evening to Enid’s Sons and Daughters of Liberty.

The health care law, known formally as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the biggest overhaul of the $2.6 trillion health care system in about 50 years. It was signed by Obama in March 2010 and promptly put to the test in the courts by 26 of the 50 states and a trade group for small businesses.

The high court ruled Thursday in a 5-4 decision to uphold most of the law, except the law’s plan to expand the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, a joint effort of the federal government and states.

Pruitt said he was in Washington on Thursday to testify in a hearing concerning the Environmental Protection Agency and was in the courtroom when the decision was delivered.

“It was an historic day,” Pruitt told the group. “This was a very disappointing day.”

Pruitt said Oklahoma was one of the first states to fight the health care law.

“It’s been oppressive to our liberty,” he said. “That’s the essence of our case.”

Holding a three-ring binder more than an inch thick, the attorney general said it was a copy of the court’s opinion issued with its ruling.

“I don’t know the full effect on Oklahoma,” he said. “The opinion is still under review.”

Pruitt encouraged everyone in attendance to read the dissenting opinion in the case, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“We’re going to go on,” Pruitt said about the fight against the law. “We don’t know, I don’t know, until we get into the guts of the opinion.”

He read excerpts of Kennedy’s dissent, explaining the issued was never about heath care, it was about taxes.

“Read the dissent. It is a great statement,” he said. “It captures the essence of what I see wrong with the majority opinion. The next stop is the legislative response.”

Overall, Pruitt said the court was looking at three key elements when it decided the case: the Commerce clause, the taxing power of Congress and the spending power of Congress.

“It is a big deal. The court said the individual mandate is not constitutional under the Commerce clause,” he said. “It’s not right to use taxing power to coerce action.”

When asked a question about trying to find a “silver lining” to Thursday’s decision, Pruitt offered this: “Unwittingly, President Obama just passed a tax on everyone in the country.”