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Gov. Tony Evers To Take Action On State’s Role In ACA Lawsuit

Evers Will Send Letter Requesting Action To AG Josh Kaul This Week

Governor-elect Tony Evers
Morry Gash/AP Photo

Gov. Tony Evers will take action this week to change Wisconsin’s role in a federal lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.

Evers said Wednesday he will send a letter this week to Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul requesting a change of direction.

“It will be asking us to change our stance with that lawsuit,” Evers said, speaking to reporters Wednesday morning at an event at Mendota Elementary School in Madison. “That’s something I promised, frankly, during the election, and I’m going to follow through on that.”

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Evers and Kaul both campaigned on ending Wisconsin’s involvement in the lawsuit, but a new law approved in December’s extraordinary session of the state Legislature makes it more difficult for the new Democratic leaders to do so.

Under the new law, the state budget committee must approve any changes to Wisconsin’s role in federal lawsuits. Prior to the change, the governor could direct the attorney general to make those changes without additional authorization.

However, Evers said he believes the state can make changes to how it moves forward with the lawsuit without violating the new law.

“We are going to issue that letter directly to the attorney general and we believe it will be in such a format that he will be able to move forward on my request,” Evers said.

The governor declined to offer further details.

Wisconsin filed the federal lawsuit challenging the ACA, also known as Obamacare, in February. The state leads the multi-state lawsuit with Texas.

The lawsuit, brought by former Republican state Attorney General Brad Schimel, argues the United States Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling upholding Obamacare’s individual mandate is no longer valid, due to subsequent federal tax law changes.

Evers made the comments at an event rolling out a new statewide program to recognize student achievement. The “Star Student” program will offer weekly awards to children who excel in the classroom and their communities.

“It’s encouraging to have an ally in the governor’s office who understands the value of public education,” said state Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “The Star Student program allows us, as leaders of the state, to interact with and encourage the next generation of leaders.”

Evers also said Tuesday he plans to visit the state’s youth prison, Lincoln Hills, Friday. He expects to meet with staff and inmates during his visit. Former Gov. Scott Walker came under criticism from some for never visiting Lincoln Hills, or any other state prison, during his time in office.