MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin is no longer part of a multistate lawsuit seeking repeal of the federal health care law passed under former President Barack Obama, a win for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers who ran on the promise to pull Wisconsin out of the case.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday granted the request from Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, who also ran on wanting to get the state out of the lawsuit. A federal judge in Texas last week removed Wisconsin from the underlying case.
Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, approved Wisconsin joining the lawsuit. His position on the law was a key issue in the 2018 governor’s race that Evers narrowly won.
In a lame-duck legislative session called after the election but before Kaul and Evers took office, Republicans passed a law requiring the GOP-controlled Legislature to sign off before withdrawing from any lawsuit.
Kaul, at the direction of Evers, was able to proceed with withdrawing the state after court rulings last month struck down the law requiring legislative approval. Republicans are appealing those rulings.
Evers said in a statement that he was proud his campaign promise was being fulfilled.
“It’s time for Republicans to stop blocking the will of the people and work with us to expand health care,” Evers said.
Kaul said if the lawsuit were successful it would take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions, put health insurance coverage at risk for millions of Americans and destabilize the insurance market.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos downplayed Wisconsin no longer being a part of the lawsuit.
“It’s water over the dam,” he said. “The lawsuit is still going to proceed. Other states will take Wisconsin’s place. So I think in the end it will be fine.”
Last week Wisconsin also got out of a second, less high-profile lawsuit challenging a federal rule that interpreted a ban on sex discrimination in the health care law as including “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.”
Those protections for transgender people and women seeking abortions were challenged by a religious hospital network and Christian health care providers who argued the rule would require them to “perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions contrary to their religious beliefs and medical judgment.”