Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under indictment for several felonies, had a grand time in Washington on Tuesday, convening with several of his fellow Republican attorneys general to roll out their plan to kill the Affordable Care Act and picking up a primary endorsement from President Donald Trump.
Paxton and 19 other state officials have sued the federal government, arguing, as so many have before, that the ACA is unconstitutional. This time, Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the co-authors of the suit, argue that Congress undid the constitutional underpinning for Obamacare when it eliminated the individual mandate in December.
“The U.S. Supreme Court already admitted that an individual mandate without a tax penalty is unconstitutional. With no remaining legitimate basis for the law, it is time that Americans are finally free from the stranglehold of Obamacare, once and for all," Paxton said in statement announcing the suit.
During a press conference Tuesday at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Paxton and Schimel said they haven't received a response from the Trump administration about the lawsuit but are hoping the feds will choose not to go to court to contest the issue.
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“We’re hopeful they’ll just confess judgment and let us win,” Paxton said.
Houston civil attorney Justin Nelson, Paxton's lone Democratic rival in the 2018 election, blasted the attorney general, accusing him of ignoring health care fraud in Texas to pursue a political agenda.
"Ken Paxton has failed to crack down on health care fraud. He dropped an investigation after the CEO of the company he was investigating gave $100,000 to Paxton’s legal defense fund," Nelson said. "Now Paxton is wasting taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit that gets rid of protections for pre-existing conditions. It's time for Texas to get rid of Ken Paxton."
Paxton accepted a $100,000 gift from James Webb, who owns a North Texas medical diagnostic company, in 2015 to help pay his legal bills. Webb later settled allegations that his company improperly billed the government for Medicare and Medicaid services for $3.5 million.