9th Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down the ‘Kochtopus’ Anti-ObamaCare Prop. 106


Image: Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care ActIn 2010, Dr. Eric Novack was the front man for “The Health Care Freedom Act,” aka the Arizona Health Insurance Reform Amendment, Proposition 106. Proposition 106 was proposed to amend the Arizona Constitution by barring any rules or regulations that would force state residents to participate in a health-care system, i.e., “ObamaCare.” The proposed amendment would also ensure that individuals would have the right to pay for private health insurance. The Arizona legislature referred the measure to the ballot. Voters approved Prop. 106 in 2010.

Dr. Eric Novack was the front man of an organization called the U.S. Health Freedom Coalition, which was financed almost entirely by the “Kochtopus” organization Center to Protect Patient Right.

McClatchy News investigated the Center to Protect Patient Rights run by the Koch brothers’ dark money laundering bag man, Sean Noble. Center’s activities provide glimpse into network of conservative advocacy groups | McClatchy:

The Kochs have several ties to the center. It is run by Sean Noble, a Phoenix-based GOP consultant who is a key operative in the Kochs’ political activities, as first noted by the investigative blog Republic Report. One of the center’s original directors, Heather Higgins, is chairwoman of the Independent Women’s Forum, which has received funding from a Koch-controlled foundation.

And Cheryl Hillen, a Connecticut-based consultant who raised $2.6 million for the center, was director of fundraising for the Koch-backed Citizens for a Sound Economy.

* * *

Noble did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails. Courtney Koshar, a Phoenix anesthesiologist and the organization’s only other director, did not respond to requests for comment. And a Phoenix doctor who once sat on its board said he couldn’t remember who asked him to join.

“I honestly played very little role,” said Dr. Eric Novack, who headed an organization called the US Health Freedom Coalition that received nearly its entire budget – $1.7 million – from the center to help pass a state ballot measure that aimed to block Obama’s health care overhaul [Prop. 106].

After all the negative publicity, the Center to Protect Patient Rights has since renamed itself American Encore.

DeathStarThe Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday struck down this “Kochtopus” Anti-ObamaCare measure because it is in conflict with federal law. The “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, was representing “The Health Care Freedom Act” and Dr. Novack (naturally).

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Judges strike down Arizona’s anti-Obamacare constitutional provision:

The provision of a 2010 voter-approved measure saying Arizonans don’t have to buy health insurance is unenforceable because it conflicts with the federal Affordable Care Act, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims brought on behalf of an Arizona resident by the Goldwater Institute that the state constitutional amendment provides protections for Arizonans from the federal directive. The judges also said language in the Arizona amendment prohibiting fines for those who refuse to buy the mandated coverage is similarly unenforceable.

Read the 9th Circuit Court Opinion Here (.pdf).

In a wide-ranging ruling, the court also threw out the claims by Nick Coons that the mandate to purchase insurance infringes on his right to “medical autonomy” because it requires him to use his limited financial resources to obtain insurance he does not want.

And the judges rebuffed arguments brought on behalf of Eric Novack, an Arizona doctor, that the law is unconstitutional because it could at some point in the future affect his future income from Medicaid patients. They called his allegations “highly speculative and… not certainly impending.”

Goldwater Institute lawyer Christina Sandefur said she is weighing options for appeal.

* * *

Judge Susan Graber, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, rejected the contention that the Arizona voter-approved measure provides a shield for residents.

She pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate. And what that means, Graber said, is the Arizona measure must fall because it “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishments and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.”

The court was no more receptive to the claim by Coons that he is being forced into a health plan he does not desire.

“The individual mandate does not require that an individual select a particular insurance plan, does not require that the individual use an insurance plan once purchased, and does not restrict an individual’s right to contract for care directly with the physician of his or her choosing,” Graber wrote. And she said it’s of no legal concern that Coons would have to spend money either on insurance or a penalty.

He just can’t refuse to do either.

“To the extent that Coons simply wishes to remain uninsured and free from the mandatory payment, the Supreme Court no longer recognizes such a right as fundamental,” she said, citing that 2012 high court ruling.

You can bet that the “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.