Ariz. congressmen join health reform lawsuit

House GOP Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and John Shadegg joined as plaintiffs Thursday in an Arizona lawsuit that aims to overturn portions of March's healthcare overhaul.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, the suit is the latest in a series of similar challenges brought by conservative organizations and attorneys general in approximately 20 states.

At least 40 states have also put forward legislation to limit or block the implementation of the program, and some — Arizona among them — are expected to see ballot measures challenging its requirement that everyone have health insurance. Seventy-one percent of Missouri voters backed such a measure on Aug. 3. 

The Arizona suit was filed by the state's conservative Goldwater Institute, and takes issue with the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board and proposed handling of patients' medical records. 

"The Democratic healthcare law infringes on our constitutional protections,” Flake said in a statement Thursday. "The Goldwater Institute’s lawsuit will reinstate some of the personal freedoms and privacy we’re guaranteed under the Constitution."

Arizona Democrats have begun to criticize the challenge. 

State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D), a member of President Obama's task force on healthcare, says it's an unnecessary move.

"It's quite stupid. If Congress wants to review it [the Independent Payment Advisory Board], all they have to do is pass an amendment. It's that simple," she said.

Other observers note that while the suit illustrates conservative frustration with the federal government, the courts rarely strike down advisory boards created by Congress. 

"It's important to note that Congress does this all the time — sets up individual bodies," says James Hodge, a health policy expert at Arizona State University.

"There are very few examples historically in which courts have ever struck down Congress's ability to set conditions for the receipt of federal funds," he added. 

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