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Gov. Tony Evers says he will order change in 'stance' in federal health care lawsuit

Posted at 4:44 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 17:44:06-05

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Tony Evers appeared poised Wednesday to defy, or find a way around, a law enacted during the Republican lame-duck legislative session that prevented him from withdrawing Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the federal health care law.

Evers told reporters that he will be sending a letter to fellow Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul this week calling for Wisconsin to "change our stance" in the lawsuit. Evers was coy about what exactly the letter would order Kaul to do, saying only "wait and see."

Evers promised during the campaign that he would remove Wisconsin from the states that sued the federal government in Texas seeking a repeal of the law. But after he defeated Republican Scott Walker, who authorized joining the lawsuit, the GOP-controlled Legislature changed the law in a lame-duck session to require their approval for withdrawing.

A federal judge last month sided with the states and struck down the law as unconstitutional. The ruling is on hold pending appeal and the case is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Whether Wisconsin is a part of the lawsuit or not has no bearing on its outcome and the state won't be treated any differently once the case is finally decided. But for Evers, who supports the Affordable Care Act, somehow finding a way to remove Wisconsin would fulfill a campaign promise and score a symbolic victory.

Evers said his letter to Kaul "will be in such a format that he will be able to move forward."

Kaul, who also supported withdrawing from the lawsuit, said he would review Evers' request and "take appropriate action in accordance with the law."

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald tweeted that Evers was "looking for ways to skirt state law so that he can advance his partisan agenda."

Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, echoed Fitzgerald, saying the letter was one of "multiple examples" of Evers trying "to work around laws to push his partisan agenda."