GOP Asks SCOTUS to Look at Medicare Death Panels


Will Republicans repeal, replace or just leave Obamacare alone? Opinions vary on all three possibilities. Some people who have never been able to obtain health insurance due to pre-existing conditions don’t want to lose their new coverage and I understand their feelings. Others are saying they want Obamacare repealed or replaced because they are paying more for less coverage in spite of what Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama keep telling them.

Some Republicans aren’t waiting for the next class of new Representatives and Senators to be sworn in. Twenty-five of them have joined forces to ask the United States Supreme Court to hear another lawsuit concerning the legality of another aspect of Obamacare.

Led by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), they are challenging the legality of the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by Obamacare to oversee Medicare and determine who gets covered and for how much. Many are referring to the advisory board as the ‘death panel’ as their decisions will most likely lead to some people not being able to get coverage for their medications and/or treatments which could lead to an earlier death for some.

When asked why they aren’t waiting until after they have control of the Senate to take congressional action to repeal the death panel, Roe responded:

“We won’t have 67 votes in the Senate. We could conjure up a good number in the House, but you’ll never get a veto overridden in the Senate. [Obama’s] going to veto it.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will become Senate Majority Leader in January, also said that any chances of redoing Obamacare over the next two years is unlikely because of not having enough votes to override a veto. He commented:

“The chances of [Obama] signing a full repeal are pretty limited. Who may ultimately take it down is the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Other Republicans also realize that they don’t have enough votes to override Obama’s veto, so they are also turning to the courts to dismantle various key pieces of Obamacare. One such lawsuit, Sissel v. HHS has advanced to a federal appeals court last week. This case challenges the legality of the individual mandate by claiming that the taxes imposed for non-compliance originated in the Senate instead of in the House which violates the US Constitution.

I wrote on this when the case was first filed in 2012 by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of their client. Todd Gaziano, Executive Director for PLF is arguing the case before the Supreme Court. He is hoping that some of the justices may be swayed by the fact that polls indicate that public support for Obamacare is plunging. If the Supreme Court rules on the letter of the US Constitution, it could effectively gut the mandated enforcement of Obamacare. Gaziano commented:

“What might be in the back of their subconscious is that the American people in the two most recent elections have thrown out the people who enacted this law.”

The case of King v. Burwell challenges the legality of federal subsidies in 34 states. Last month, Republicans got the Supreme Court to agree to hear this case. Many consider this case to be the greatest threat to the stability of Obamacare in two years.

If any or all of these three cases are upheld by the Supreme Court, they could effectively eviscerate the heart and meat of the Affordable Care Act. If the tax penalties are ruled unconstitutional because they originated in the wrong house of Congress, if federal subsidies are ruled illegal in 34 states and the Medicare Advisory Payment Board is ruled unconstitutional, think about what it all would mean to Obamacare.

First, many people who had subsidies will lose them and will no longer be able to afford their health insurance and there will not be any tax penalty for them or others who do not have health insurance. Obamacare expanded Medicare coverage which has accounted for a large percentage of those signed up for Obamacare. Without the advisory board, Medicare will pay out a lot more than the Democrats planned on and will soon bankrupt the system.

Obama’s flagship piece of legislation will be viewed as a larger disaster than it already is and he will be forced to turn to the Republican controlled Congress to try to revamp the program to make it workable and legal.

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