PHOENIX – The Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit today to strike down the 2010 federal health care reforms as a fundamental attack on individual freedom and the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix is a private challenge to the health care bill championed by President Barack Obama. Arizona and 21 other states are pursuing public lawsuits against the federal law, based in large part on preserving their traditional authority to regulate health insurance. This new lawsuit, known as Coons v. Geithner, argues the federal health care bill exceeds the powers of Congress, violates individual rights, interferes with the authority of states, and violates the separation of powers by setting up a new bureaucracy without meaningful congressional oversight or judicial review.
“This lawsuit is our effort to bring down one of the most sweeping invasions of individual liberty and state sovereignty in American history,” said Clint Bolick, litigation director for the Goldwater Institute. “The federal health care bill is a sledgehammer to solve a problem that needs the precision of a scalpel. This is the most overbearing and intrusive way possible to try to address America’s rising health care costs.”
Nick Coons serves as the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. A small business owner from Tempe, Mr. Coons pays for all of his medical care out of his own pocket and he wants to continue making his own health care decisions. Under the federal health care bill, Mr. Coons will face significant fines from the IRS if he doesn’t buy a health insurance plan that has been approved by the government by 2014.
“The government is making me spend money on something that I don’t want,” Mr. Coons said. “Is a stranger who works for the government in some other part of the country really going to know what I need? I am the best qualified to make these decisions for myself.”
The new federal law also violates Mr. Coons’ medical privacy by forcing him to disclose his medical records to an insurance company, and those records could be accessed by the federal government and others without his permission.
Mr. Coons has been joined as plaintiff in this case by U.S. Representatives Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, and John Shadegg, all of Arizona. The federal bill created a powerful board, called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, to assure cost containment. The board will have no meaningful oversight from Congress or the courts and can’t be repealed, except during a short time in 2017. This provision of the law violates the separation of powers doctrine essential to America’s system of government.
Other plaintiffs represented by the Goldwater Institute include Arizona state House Speaker Kirk Adams and 28 other Arizona legislators. Earlier this year, these lawmakers tried to resolve the state’s budget deficit in part by voting to reduce the state’s relatively generous benefits for people receiving health care through Medicaid. But the passage of the federal health care bill forced the Legislature to restore all benefits they had reduced or risk losing $7 billion in federal funding for the program. This federal coercion violates the First Amendment rights of these lawmakers to vote solely in the best interests of Arizona citizens.
To overturn the federal health care bill, the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation is suing President Obama in his official capacity as head of the executive branch and Timothy Geithner, who as secretary of the Department of Treasury oversees the IRS and its task of fining individuals who don’t buy health insurance by 2014. The other two defendants are Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, whose department would implement the health care bill; and Attorney General Eric Holder, who oversees the Justice Department and other agencies set to enforce other provisions of the health care bill.
The Obama administration is expected to ask that this lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that the federal bill won’t be fully implemented until 2014. But last month, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson rejected that argument against the state of Virginia’s legal challenge to the federal health care bill. Judge Hudson said Virginia deserves its day in court because the bill “radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America.”
The Goldwater Institute will host a telephone town hall about this lawsuit against the federal health care bill at 7:00 p.m. tonight, August 12, 2010. To join the town hall, call (888) 886-6603 and enter event ID number 15269.
Learn more about Coons v. Geithner here. The Goldwater Institute is a research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters. Click here to support this lawsuit or call Katie Charles at (602) 462-5000 x 249.