Another day, another challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
Plaintiffs Nick Coons and Eric Novack were represented in District Court by the Goldwater Institute. (You know where this is headed.) They object to the Affordable Care Act for three reasons: (1) the individual mandate is bad and they don't like it; (2) they don't like the establishment of an advisory program that issues Medicare budget recommendations; and (3) the ACA violates their right to medical autonomy. Oh, and they also claim that an Arizona Health Care Freedom Act, one of many such acts passed in other states, purports to invalidate the ACA individual mandate in Arizona.
Dr. Novack claimed that the Medicare advisory board violates the non-delegation doctrine by granting too much power to a regulatory agency. The Ninth Circuit didn't even have to address this claim on the merits, finding too speculative Dr. Novack's pleas that his business would be harmed if the board decided to alter Medicare reimbursement rates.
Nick Coons is not a doctor. He's just a guy who doesn't like health insurance, doesn't want it, and doesn't need it. He said that the individual mandate violated his right to refuse unwanted medical treatment by "forcing him to create or risk creating an intimate relationship concerning his health and medical care with millions of non-physician intermediaries employed by health insurers, rather than directly with the physician of his choice." The poor guy.
Naturally, the court quickly deduced that the individual mandate has nothing whatsoever to do with medical rights; rather, it merely requires him to purchase insurance or purchase no insurance and pay a penalty. He doesn't actually ever have to see a doctor, so all of his fears -- which are no doubt completely legitimate and not politically motivated at all -- can be put to rest.
And even though Coons claims his right to informational privacy would be infringed if he were to apply for insurance (because he would have to give up some medical information to third parties), the fact remains that he hasn't even tried to apply for insurance yet. This claim is as unripe as a green banana.
And is Arizona's state law, which purports to block enforcement of the ACA, actually preempted by the federal ACA? Please remain in your seats if you guessed "You bet it is."
The state law says that a law can't compel any person to participate in a health care system and can't compel someone to pay a penalty for not having health insurance. Because this presents a pretty big obstacle to implementing the ACA, it's preempted.
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It's safe to say nothing about this ruling was a surprise. With all these creative arguments against the ACA being tossed out, we'll soon live in a world where, shockingly, there are no Obamacare lawsuits happening at all.
- Obamacare Court Decisions Could Jeopardize Billions in State Subsidies (Governing Magazine)
- Two Doctors Weigh Whether to Accept Obamacare Plans (Flagstaff, Arizona's KNAU Radio)
- En Banc Petition Filed in Obamacare Subsidy Case (FindLaw's D.C. Circuit Blog)
- The Importance of a Backup Plan: SCOTUS Upholds Individual Mandate (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog)