PLF joins forces with members of Congress to fight Obamacare

December 04, 2014 | By TIMOTHY SANDEFUR

This morning, we joined forces with over two dozen members of Congress to file a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case challenging the constitutionality of the Independent Payment Advisory Board provision of Obamacare. IPAB is the group of “Platonic Guardians” that are empowered to regulate Medicare spending–a board of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats whose “recommendations” automatically become law without any checks or balances by the President, Congress, or the courts. Amazingly, the law even tries to make the IPAB immune from repeal! That’s one reason George Will recently referred to IPAB as “the most anti-constitutional measure ever enacted.”

PLF’s Todd Gaziano speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill about PLF’s amicus brief

Readers of the Liberty Blog will recall that we filed briefs in the trial court and the Ninth Circuit supporting our friends at the Goldwater Institute, who are litigating this case. Those courts ruled that the challenge to IPAB had been brought too early, but as we point out in our Supreme Court brief, the Obamacare statute actually makes IPAB immune from judicial review, so if the Court doesn’t hear this case now, it’s unlikely it’ll hear the case in the future.

As Senator Tom Coburn and Congressman Phil Roe explain in the Wall Street Journal this morning, IPAB is a shocking violation of the basic constitutional principles of separation of powers and government accountability. The law attempts to give this group of experts (or, in this case, a single bureaucrat: the Secretary of Health and Human Services) the power to take whatever steps they consider to be “related to the Medicare program,” so as to reduce costs. Although IPAB supposedly is barred from “rationing care,” the law does not define what that term means, and because IPAB is immune from judicial, legislative, or executive power, there would be no recourse if IPAB did ration care. Write Coburn and Roe,

The Supreme Court should nonetheless accept review in Coons v. Lew. The plaintiffs challenge the existence of an agency whose actions are uncontrollable and unreviewable. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it will not hear this case until IPAB takes action. But the unconstitutional provisions of the law, including those claiming to tie the hands of Congress, are already operating. Because the law frees IPAB of any checks and balances, waiting could be dangerous. The Supreme Court should hold that the time to answer these constitutional questions is now, not later.

Our brief is signed not only by Congressman Roe and Sen. Coburn, but by Representatives Dan Benishek, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Paul Broun, Mike Coffman, John Fleming, Trent Franks, Phil Gingrey, Paul Gosar, H. Morgan Griffith, Tim Huelskamp, Thomas Massie, Tom McClintock, Alan Nunnelee, Pete Olson, Bill Posey, Tom Price, Todd Rokita, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Lee Terry, Rob Woodall, and Ted Yoho.

You can also learn more about the case in the National Law Journal or on our blog.