By Sean Murphy, Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Republican critics of the new federal health care law on Wednesday seized on the delay of a major part of the program as evidence of problems with it.
The Obama administration on Tuesday unexpectedly announced a one-year delay in a key piece of the law that requires many companies to provide coverage for their workers or face fines.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has challenged the law in federal court, said the delay is an acknowledgment that the requirements are a "complex, job killing and harmful mandate."
"Oklahoma's position has been clear from the beginning that the 'large-employer mandate' not only violates the law when implemented in states without a state health care exchange, but cripples businesses with burdensome and onerous requirements and penalties," Pruitt said in a statement.
Pruitt is arguing in a case pending in U.S. District Court in Muskogee that the federal health care law gives the government control over state legislative and executive power, exceeds Congress' authority and infringes on state sovereignty.
"Our fight continues on behalf of Oklahoma citizens to confront the administration when it seeks to overreach its authority and circumvent the law," Pruitt said.
Several members of Oklahoma's all-Republican federal congressional delegation also seized on the delay as an opportunity to blast the Affordable Care Act as a detriment to businesses.
"The fact remains this health care mandate is unworkable and unsustainable," said U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a first-term congressman from eastern Oklahoma and the owner of a plumbing company whose campaign in 2012 centered around criticizing the health care law. "Jobs and business are at stake."
When U.S. Rep. James Lankford, the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, announced at a town hall meeting in Del City Tuesday night that a key provision of "Obamacare" had been delayed, many in the crowd began to applaud.
"Requirements on Oklahoma businesses like compliance paperwork, reporting mandates and coverage minimums have caused business owners in my district to halt growth in order to brace for the financial levies to give way," Lankford said in a statement. "I'm glad the President finally gave in to the reality that this law is too far-reaching for real, law-abiding small business owners to implement."