Virginia court upholds Oklahoma argument

OKLAHOMA CITY – A decision this week by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals backs Oklahoma’s argument in the state’s health care case that it has the right to sue the federal government over the law’s large employer mandate. The Virginia case involved whether Liberty University had “standing” to sue the federal government over the health care mandate and whether the Anti-Injunction Act applied to the case. The State of Oklahoma has argued the same issues in federal court in its lawsuit against an IRS rule that goes outside of the law. The federal justices unanimously ruled that the university did have standing and that the AIA did not apply. A brief filed Friday in Oklahoma’s health care case states, “In rejecting the federal government’s standing arguments, the appeals court relied on the fact that, notwithstanding any potential penalties, the mandate imposed substantial compliance costs on Liberty University.” In the opinion, the justices wrote, “Liberty need not show that it will be subject to an assessable payment to establish standing if it otherwise alleges facts that establish standing. … Even if the coverage Liberty currently provides ultimately proves sufficient, it may well incur additional costs because of the administrative burden of assuring compliance with the employer mandate, or due to an increase in the cost of care.” Oklahoma’s lawsuit was filed in September in federal court in the eastern district of Oklahoma. The lawsuit argues that an IRS rule punishes “large employers,” including local government, with millions of dollars in tax penalties in states that did not adopt state health care exchanges, which is not allowed under the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit also asserts that the IRS rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act.