KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Arizona Lawmakers Challenge Health Overhaul

A group of Arizona lawmakers has become the latest to challenge the federal health law as they "joined a conservative watchdog group Thursday in filing a 78-page lawsuit" challenging the law's mandate on Americans to carry health insurance and its Independent Payment Advisory Board in Medicare, Fox News reports. "The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix by the Goldwater Institute and Arizona representatives, takes aim at several key provisions in the health care law, focusing primarily - as most challenges have - on the requirement to purchase health insurance coverage" (8/12).

East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune: One of the plaintiffs of the lawsuit is The Goldwater Institute - a Phoenix-based think tank that advocates for greater privatization. "The lead plaintiff is Nick Coons, 31, owner of RedSeven, a Tempe-based computer repair company. The suit says he carries only catastrophic insurance coverage to save money ... because he is healthy. The plan covers costs of $5,000 or more and Coons pays for other medical care himself. … The suit argues Coon's medical privacy would be violated by forcing him to disclose medical records to an insurance company, and that those documents could be accessed by the federal government without his approval" (Groff, 8/12).

The Associated Press: "The Goldwater Institute maintains that under the federal health care bill, Coons will face significant fines from the Internal Revenue Service if he doesn't buy a health insurance plan that has been approved by the government by 2014. … Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, says the Constitution couldn't be more clear on the health care issue. 'Health care decisions belong to individual Americans and health care policy decisions belong to states,' Adams said" (Carlson, 8/13).

Capitol Media Services/The (Flagstaff) Arizona Daily Sun: "The lawsuit, financed by the Goldwater Institute, makes some of the same challenges to the law as are being considered by a federal judge in Florida in the claim already filed by 20 states, including Arizona. … The new lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, also has something not in the multistate claim. It specifically challenges a little-known provision in the federal law creating an Independent Payment Advisory Board. … [T]he federal law requires the board to make recommendations in how to cut Medicare spending to achieve certain cost savings. … [T]hose recommendations become law unless Congress votes to specifically reject them." The lawsuit challenges the structure that gives "members of Congress just 14 business days in 2017 to prepare the necessary resolution to repeal the board's authority 'or the act forever forecloses them from doing so,' [said a Goldwater litigation director]. The net effect, [he said], denies members of Congress - in this case, Republican Reps. Jeff Flake, John Shadegg and Trent Franks, all plaintiffs - of their legislative rights and duties" (Fischer, 8/13).

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