State News

Democrats back state’s removal from Affordable Care Act lawsuit

Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul lack authority to withdraw from the Affordable Care Act lawsuit, leaving the power in the hands of the Republican-led Joint Committee on Finance. 

Image By: Courtesy of Susan Ruggles, Flickr

Wisconsin’s position in the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act remains unclear five days after the governor announced his desire to withdraw. However, on Friday, Democratic committee members of the Joint Committee on Finance sent a letter to the Republican co-chairs requesting the committee to convene. 

All four Democratic representatives in the JCF asked the Republican co-chairs — Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette — to hold a vote regarding the status of pulling Wisconsin from the multi-state lawsuit. 

The letter supported a previous message Attorney General Josh Kaul wrote to the committee co-chairs on Thursday requesting to remove Wisconsin from the Texas v. United States joint lawsuit. 

Kaul’s letter was in response to Gov. Tony Evers’ announcement during his first State of the State Address in which he directed Kaul to withdraw from the case.

However, Evers’ announcement received backlash because the attempt to fulfill one of his biggest campaign platforms violates legislation enacted during the contentious lame duck session last December. 

The bills passed in those sessions stripped Evers and Kaul of the power to withdraw from any lawsuit without first gaining approval from the legislature’s JCF.

Kaul explained the necessity of first pursing cooperation from the JCF in a letter to the governor the day after the State of the State Address. In reaction, Evers softened his stance on the order, creating public uncertainty of where Wisconsin stands in regard to the lawsuit. 

"It’s in the hands of the attorney general now, and how that plays out, we’ll see," Evers said. "We will obey the law as it exists but as a first step I needed to inform the attorney general of my desire to get out of the lawsuit."

Many Republicans, like Majority Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, have called out Evers for his “flip-flop” statements, deeming him an “amateur.” 


Former Attorney General Brad Schimel and former Gov. Scott Walker initiated Wisconsin’s position in the joint lawsuit against the ACA, and also passed legislation granting the JCF the power over Kaul and Evers. 

The JCF is comprised of 16 members of the legislature. Republicans currently hold a majority of 12 to four, with additional power granted by their possession of the four leadership positions: two co-chairs and two vice-chairs. 

Many Democrats, including those affiliated with the JCF, believe the legislation passed in the lame duck session was a move by the GOP to prevent political action by Evers and Kaul.

“This should be the decision of our elected constitutional officers, but it comes to Joint Finance to withdraw from the ACA lawsuit because of the unprecedented partisan lame-duck session,” Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said in the letter to the co-chairs on Friday. “We should listen to the majority of Wisconsinites, withdraw Wisconsin from the partisan political lawsuit, and send the clear message that health care coverage will be protected for all Wisconsinites.” 

Currently, Wisconsinites await an answer to these letters and a potential vote on the matter. A recent poll from Marquette Law showed Wisconsin in a decently close grid lock, with 48 percent of respondents supporting withdrawing from the lawsuit, and 42 percent believing the state should remain involved.

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