Supreme Court declines to hear ObamaCare ‘death panel’ challenge

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The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to ObamaCare that argued a cost-cutting board set up by the law was unconstitutional. 

The case dealt with the law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which critics of ObamaCare have labeled a “death panel.” The board is charged with recommending ways to cut Medicare spending if it rises above a certain threshold. 

{mosads}As is customary, the court did not give a reason for its decision. 

The Goldwater Institute, which brought the case, Coons v. Lew, argued the board violates the constitutional principle that Congress cannot delegate its power to another body.

A federal district court ruled that the board does not violate the Constitution, and an appeals court later dismissed the case as being “unripe,” meaning that there is no practical harm at stake because the board does not yet exist. 

The Supreme Court is now declining to reconsider that decision. It takes the vote of at least four justices to hear a case. 

In December, 25 Republican lawmakers backed the suit with an amicus brief in the court. 

“As a physician with more than 30 years of experience, I find the ability of this board to intervene in the relationship doctors have with their patients alarming,” Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said at a press conference at the time. “I have serious concerns that this unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy could have a devastating impact on seniors’ access to care, and I hope the court will hear this case.”

The board is banned by law from recommending changes that would ration care or require seniors to pay a higher share of costs, with reforms intended to focus on efficiency in Medicare’s payment system. 

In 2013, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) wrote to President Obama saying they refused to recommend appointments to the board. The law requires that the president consult with those leaders on appointments. 

“Because the law will give IPAB’s 15 unelected, unaccountable individuals the ability to deny seniors access to innovative care, we respectfully decline to recommend appointments,” they wrote. 

Obama has not nominated anyone to the board. Nominees also require Senate confirmation, which would set off a battle in Congress. 

The Supreme Court in June is expected to deliver a decision on a different ObamaCare case, this one challenging the subsidies provided to consumers who buy health insurance on the federal exchange.

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