Uninsured Oklahomans ponder lawsuit, city attorney discloses

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 23-Mar-2010

While Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson determines whether or not he will join other state attorneys general in challenges to the freshly-passed health care reform, at least two Oklahomans are weighing their personal options. An attorney in Oklahoma City says the pair may take legal action if the Attorney General chooses not to represent them by joining efforts to challenge the new federal law’s constitutionality.

“Within an hour of arriving at the office on Monday (March 22), I received inquiries from two uninsured Oklahomans that want to challenge this law,” said Oklahoma City attorney A.J. Ferate. “Both have informed me that if the Attorney General does not file Constitutional challenges against this law, they want to make sure their interests are represented.”

The Attorney General, as reported yesterday announced that, “Should the final product contain constitutional infirmities that adversely impact the states and are not otherwise being addressed, we will consider appropriate legal action.”

Ferate told CapitolBeatOK that both individuals would have standing to file against the act because they do not have insurance, and would be unconstitutionally forced into purchasing insurance, or face fines. “This is not like having car insurance. Driving is a privilege you don’t have to take advantage of. This law would require all Americans to engage in commerce whether they choose to or not. In plain terms, their liberty will be infringed.”

Ferate said neither individual was prepared to speak to CapitolBeatOk or other journalists at this time. However, Ferate surmised the unsolicited contacts from the two potential plaintiffs are a sign that the polls are accurate in showing significant anger with Congress over enactment of the new law.   

While the law has attracted furious opposition from Oklahoma’s Republican state legislators, state Sen. Jim Wilson of Tahlequah, a Democrat, ardently defended the bill today, saying costs for the measure could be offset with increased efficiencies and other measures. Another defender of the new federal bill is Oklahoma state Democratic party chairman Todd Goodman.

However, certain prominent Democrats have been critical of the new law, including U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, who voted against the bill.