PHOENIX (CN) – Twenty-nine of Arizona’s state and federal lawmakers – all Republicans – sued President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services, claiming the president’s health-care reform program is unconstitutional. The Republicans claim that the “federal government does not have the constitutional power to mandate that … American citizens purchase health insurance, much less surrender their medical privacy and autonomy, as a condition of living in the United States.”
The plaintiffs’ legal counsel, the Goldwater Institute, sued in Federal Court on behalf of a Tempe small business owner and 29 elected Republican state and federal legislators.
Nick Coons, the lead plaintiff and the only one who is not an elected official, claims that rather than buy health insurance, he “has maintained a savings account since 2006, in which he sets aside savings for medical expenses and other unusual or extraordinary expenses to be paid out of pocket.”
Coons claims he will face “monthly penalty amounts” from the Internal Revenue Service beginning in 2014 if he does not buy a health insurance plan approved by the government.
He and his co-plaintiffs claim that “the threat of the individual mandate’s penalties will force plaintiff Coons to disclose private medical information to health insurance issuers; [and that] applications for individual and small group health insurance from Arizona health plans and health insurance issuers (collectively ‘health insurance issuers’) have customarily required and will continue to require the disclosure of private and personal medical information by applicants.”
The plaintiffs claim that Arizona health insurers “routinely share” the medical information of millions of policyholders and applicants with private organizations such as the Medical Information Bureau, which “maintain searchable databases of personal medical information concerning past and present insureds and insurance applicants.”
Coons claims his medical information would be available to about 600 insurance firms that use the Medical Information Bureau to find information about individual applicants if he is forced to buy an insurance plan.
Coons claims he would rather put his money into his computer business instead of paying for health insurance. Coons claims he is saving a significant amount of his income to pay the penalties he will begin to face in 2014 for failing to acquire insurance.
All of the state legislators claim that “the federal government [is] exceeding its constitutional powers and burdening [their] voting rights as a state legislator through the passage of the Act by using the threat of extreme economic duress to influence the passage or repeal of state appropriations.”
The Goldwater Institute also takes issue with the Independent Payment Advisory Board, claiming that because the board “is prohibited from directly rationing health care, increasing Medicare beneficiary cost sharing, restricting Medicare benefits and modifying Medicare eligibility criteria to meet its Medicare spending reduction,” it will propose to reduce Medicare payments and reimbursement rates to health care providers.
The board also denies members of Congress, including plaintiff House Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and John Shadegg, the “right to consider, review, debate and vote on the legislative proposals of IPAB like any other legislative proposal and to repeal IPAB like any other administrative agency that is legislatively established,” according to the complaint.
The state lawmakers claim they will lose federal matching funds if they vote to decrease state funding for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s version of Medicaid.
The congressional health care law, passed in March, requires most Americans to carry health insurance. The law offers tax credits to small businesses that offer coverage for employees, and bars insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions, and from dropping people when they get sick.
Plaintiffs want the law declared unconstitutional the federal government enjoined from enforcing it.
They are represented by Clint Bolick with the Goldwater Institute.