Obamacare Challenge Tossed by 7th Circuit

     CHICAGO (CN) – A politically conservative medical association’s challenge to Obamacare failed before the 7th Circuit on Friday.
     The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which claims “to fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine,” sued the Internal Revenue Service to stop enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It claimed that the law “shifts the burden of premiums onto individuals and eliminates from the market many cash-paying patients who would seek medical care by members” of the association.
     U.S. District Judge William Griesbach threw out the case on the logic that “plaintiffs typically lack standing to litigate the tax obligations of others,” and 7th Circuit Judges Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner hammered this point home during oral arguments Tuesday.
     Today, the court issued a pithy opinion that casts doubt on future lawsuits against the federal health care reform law.
     “The court has rejected efforts by one person to litigate about the amount of someone else’s taxes,” Easterbrook’s judgment said.
     Echoing Posner’s concerns about a “breathtaking expansion of jurisdiction,” the panel said that, even though a new tax regime might impact the demand for doctors’ services, “by the same logic, they could litigate about any tax policy.” (Emphasis in original)
     The plaintiffs therefore lacked standing to challenge the law at all, the court found.
     “In a market economy everything is connected to everything else through the price system,” Easterbrook wrote. “To allow a long, intermediated chain of effects to establish standing is to abolish the standing requirement as a practical matter.”
     This loss will hit Obamacare opponents harder than a judgment based solely on such procedural concerns. Casting doubt on future challenges, Easterbrook noted that issues of equal-protection or Tenth Amendment violations were irrelevant for proving standing.
     “Plaintiffs would be the wrong persons to litigate even if they had standing,” Easterbrook wrote. “Only persons seeking to advance the interests protected by the mandatory-insurance portions of the Affordable Care Act would have a plausible claim to relief. Yet plaintiffs, who do not accept insured patients, want to reduce rather than increase the number of persons who carry health insurance.”
     The court is more interested in furthering the statute’s goals than in striking it down, according to the ruling
     “Someone else would be a much more appropriate champion of the contention that the IRS has not done what it should to accomplish the statute’s goal of universal coverage,” Easterbrook said.

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