The Goldwater Institute filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to block national healthcare reform, arguing it violates the rights of a Tempe business owner, Arizona lawmakers and even members of Congress.
The suit attacks the plan on several fronts, arguing it tramples individual rights and that Congress won't have proper oversight of a health care system that it doesn't even have the authority to create. It also violates the First Amendment rights of 29 Arizona lawmakers who signed onto the suit, said Goldwater attorney Clint Bolick.
"We believe that the lawsuit that we filed this morning is the strongest challenge yet to the federal health care law," Bolick said Thursday.
The Phoenix-based Goldwater attacked the bill, which is backed by President Barack Obama, as the most sweeping invasion of personal liberty in U.S. history.
The lead plaintiff is Nick Coons, 31, owner of RedSeven, a Tempe-based computer repair company. The suits says he carries only catastrophic insurance coverage to save money and because he is healthy. The plan covers costs of $5,000 or more and Coons pays for other medical care himself.
Coons said he invests money he saves on insurance to grow his company. He argues he shouldn't be compelled to pay for medical coverage he likely won't need.
"I think I would have standing in this case because I don't have health care coverage that the bill would consider adequate," Coons said Thursday.
Coons would face significant fines starting in 2014 if he didn't buy a health plan approved by the federal government. The fine would likely offset what he saves now, he said.
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.
Coons is also part of a Goldwater suit against Tempe's incentives for the recently opened Sea Life Aquarium at Arizona Mills mall. He is running for Congress as a Libertarian in District 5, challenging Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell.
The suit had 29 Arizona lawmakers join, including House Speaker Kirk Adams. The health care bill prevents them from trimming Arizona's Medicaid benefits as they try to balance the state budget, Bolick said. If they defied the law to cut spending, the state would risk losing $7 billion in federal funding.
That violates First Amendment rights and the ability of lawmakers to act on behalf of their constituents, Bolick said.
"We believe this amounts to coercion," Bolick said.
The East Valley lawmakers in the suit are Sen. Chuck Gray and Reps. Cecil Ash, Andy Biggs, Steve Court, Laurin Hendrix and Warde Nichols. They are all Republicans.
U.S. Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and John Shadegg are part of the suit, which argues the Republicans won't have the right to repeal the health care bill. The plan aims to contain costs through the powerful Independent Payment Advisory Board that lacks meaningful oversight by Congress or courts, Bolick said. Congress can repeal the law only during a brief time in 2017, Bolick said, which violates the separation of powers doctrine.
The suit, Coons v. Geithner, was filed in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix. It names U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Obama and others as defendants.
Bolick has argued and won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He predicted hearings will begin quickly and the case will go in Goldwater's favor. The U.S. Supreme Court has the strongest federalist stance in a lifetime and has recently blocked federal intervention in areas reserved for states, he said.
Bolick said other suits against the federal law and the variety of challenges posed by Goldwater could produce a death of a thousand cuts to the sweeping health care package.
"We hope to bring the entire thing down," Bolick said.