Suit claims Congress vests too much power in Obamacare rationing panel

April 25, 2011

It seems like there is a new reason to get rid of Obamacare every day, probably because many policy experts are still reading the more than 2,000-page law. By now, you are probably familiar with the legal challenges to Obamacare, particularly those challenges that focus on the unconstitutional nature of the individual mandate. However, there is another challenge to Obamacare that is equally important.

Arizona’s Goldwater Institute has filed a lawsuit, Coons v. Geithner, that challenges Obamacare on many of the familiar grounds, but adds a challenge to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the board established by Obamacare to restrain spending growth in Medicare. The IPAB is what some are calling the “death panel” because it is essentially an unelected board granted unchecked authority over healthcare comparable to the Federal Reserve’s authority over banking.

The Goldwater Institute claims that the IPAB will make decisions on how much doctors can charge, how insurance companies will pay for care, and when patients can get cutting-edge treatments and none of those decisions can be reviewed and reversed by Congress or the courts. They argue that the creation of the IPAB and granting it with such broad and unchecked powers violates the Constitutional separation of powers.

It is unthinkable that Congress would pass an act that grants so much power over healthcare to a board that answers to no one (and cannot be repealed, even by future Legislatures), but that is exactly what the IPAB is. The legal team at the Goldwater Institute should be applauded for challenging this dangerously powerful agency.

Bobby Lepak is OCPA’s research assistant and is a 3L at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.