Americans for Prosperity: “You Be The Judge – Healthcare Freedom Amendment”

An ad from Americans for Prosperity blames the Florida Supreme Court for ‘denying’ Floridians the opportunity to vote against the Affordable Care Act, which AFP falsely claims will “cost trillions” and allow bureaucrats to cut Medicare. But the ad, which follows in the wake of the GOP’s decision to try to remove three Florida Supreme Court justices, omits the fact that the case before the court dealt with an attempt to place misleading, partisan language describing the health care law on the state’s 2010 ballot.

IPAB Is Tasked With Finding Additional Savings, But Is Forbidden From Cutting Benefits

While the narrator says that the health care law “gave Washington more control over our health care, on-screen text reads: “15 unelected bureaucrats can cut Medicare,” citing cites Sections 3403 and 10320 of the law, which pertain to the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

ACA Establishes An Independent, Senate-Confirmed Board (IPAB) To Find Additional Savings. As explained by the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The 2010 health reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as the ACA) establishes a new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) with authority to issue recommendations to reduce the growth in Medicare spending, and provides for the Board’s recommendations to be considered by Congress and implemented by the Administration on a fast-track basis. […] As authorized by the health reform law, IPAB is an independent board housed in the executive branch and composed of 15 full-time members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011]

IPAB Proposals Will Be Implemented Unless Congress Finds Alternative Savings Or Supermajority Overturns Them. According to the Washington Post: “Beginning with fiscal 2015, if Medicare is projected to grow too quickly, the IPAB will make binding recommendations to reduce spending. Those recommendations will be sent to Capitol Hill at the beginning of each year, and if Congress doesn’t like them, it must pass alternative cuts — of the same size — by August. A supermajority of the Senate can also vote to amend the IPAB [spending] recommendations. If Congress fails to act, the secretary of Health and Human Services is required to implement the cuts by default.” [Washington Post, 5/8/11]

IPAB Cannot “Ration” Care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The Board is prohibited from recommending changes that would reduce payments to certain providers before 2020, and is also prohibited from recommending changes in premiums, benefits, eligibility and taxes, or other changes that would result in rationing.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011]

Affordable Care Act Reduces The Deficit

CBO: The Affordable Care Act Will Reduce Deficits By Over $200 Billion From 2012-2021. According to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf’s testimony before the House on March 30, 2011: “CBO and JCT’s most recent comprehensive estimate of the budgetary impact of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act was in relation to an estimate prepared for H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on January 19, 2011. H.R. 2 would repeal the health care provisions of those laws. CBO and JCT estimated that repealing PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act would produce a net increase in federal deficits of $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues. Reversing the sign of the estimate released in February provides an approximate estimate of the impact over that period of enacting those provisions. Therefore, CBO and JCT effectively estimated in February that PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act will produce a net decrease in federal deficits of $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues.” [“CBO’s Analysis of the Major Health Care Legislation Enacted in March 2010,”, 3/30/11]

  • July 2012 Report Affirmed Projection That ACA Will Reduce Deficits. According to a Congressional Budget Office Report titled “Estimates for the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act Updated for the Recent Supreme Court Decision”: “CBO and JCT have not updated their estimate of the overall budgetary impact of the ACA; previously, they estimated that the law would, on net, reduce budget deficits.” [, July 2012]

Florida’s Supreme Court Struck Down Summary Language Likely To Mislead Voters, Not Amendment Itself

A Lower Court Had Ruled Against Putting Anti-Health Care Law Amendment On The Ballot On The Grounds Its Summary Was Misleading. From the Christian Science Monitor: “At issue was whether the summary of the ballot question as written by state lawmakers was inaccurate or confusing. It read in part: ‘Proposing an amendment to the state constitution to ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor-patient relationship, guard against mandates that don’t work, prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system…’ Four Florida voters filed a lawsuit challenging the language. A circuit judge found the ballot language misleading and ordered it off the ballot.” [Christian Science Monitor, 8/31/10]

In Appeal, Florida Officials Admitted Summary Was Misleading And Asked For Full Text Of Amendment To Be Placed On Ballot In Lieu Of Summary. From the Christian Science Monitor: “In an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Secretary of State did not defend the language of the ballot initiative. State officials conceded the summary was misleading. Instead, they argued that the court should simply substitute the text of the amendment for the summary.” [Christian Science Monitor, 8/31/10]

Supreme Court Ruled It Did Not Have The Authority To Replace The Ballot Language. From the Miami Herald’s Naked Politics blog: “When the state acknowledged the summary was misleading, it asked the court to replace the text of the amendment in the summary. The majority ruled it did not have the authority to do to substitute language the legislature intended to appear on the ballot and noted that the court has ‘previously asked the Legislature to establish a procedure that would avoid this problem…The Legislature has yet to establish such a process.’” [Miami Herald blog post, 9/24/12]

Rewritten Health Care Amendment Scheduled To Appear On 2012 Ballot. From the Tampa Bay Times: “Legislators took a do-over on two of the rejected amendments this year and changed the language to help them pass the court review. SJR 2 says that the state can enact no law to ‘compel, directly or indirectly,’ anyone to carry health insurance, an attempt to block people from purchasing health insurance as required by the federal health care law. The court had ruled the language was confusing and misleading, so legislators removed the controversial summary and put the entire text of the amendment in its place.” [Tampa Bay Times, 5/10/11]

Three Judges Are Targets Of A Conservative Campaign To Open Up Judicial Appointments To GOP Gov. Scott

If Democratic Appointees Are Not Retained, Republican Gov. Scott Will Get To Appoint New Ones. From the Orlando Sentinel: “The state Republican Party has put a target on the backs of three state Supreme Court Justices. The party announced late Friday that its board voted unanimously this week to oppose the retention of Supreme Court Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince, who were all appointed by Democratic former Gov. Lawton Chiles and who have ruled against several major priorities of Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration. If the justices are not retained, Scott would appoint replacements.” [Orlando Sentinel, 9/21/12]

AFP’s Ad Comes Days After GOP Decided To Target Florida Judges Who Struck Down Amendment Summary. From the Huffington Post: “A conservative advocacy group began running an Internet ad criticizing the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday, days after the Republican Party started a campaign to sack three justices who rejected efforts to overturn President Barack Obama’s healthcare law. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group financed by billionaires Charles and David Koch, released the first in an expected series of ads attacking the Supreme Court after the Republican Party of Florida executive committee voted unanimously to target justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. The justices face a popular vote to remain in office this fall under the state’s merit retention law, which was created in the 1970s to insulate the high court from political pressure.” [, 9/25/12]

Justices Also Being Targeted By Conservative “Restore Justice” Group. As the St. Petersburg Times reported: “Using a decision that kept a vote on health care reform off the 2010 ballot as a rallying point, a conservative group is launching a campaign to unseat three Florida Supreme Court justices. Jesse Phillips, a founder of the group Citizen2Citizen, has started the ‘Restore Justice 2012’ campaign. For now, the group has its sights on Supreme Court Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and Fred Lewis. The three are up for a merit retention vote in 2012. They were part of a 5-2 majority of justices that ruled a proposed constitutional amendment crafted by state lawmakers to target federal health care reform was too vague and struck it from the 2010 ballot. Phillips describes the ruling as inappropriate ‘judicial activism.’ ‘When a super-majority of our elected representatives vote to ask citizens a ballot question, the citizens should be asked that question,’ Phillips said. ‘They shouldn’t only be asked questions the court likes.’” [St. Petersburg Times, 6/13/11]

  • Americans For Prosperity Florida Reached Out To Restore Justice To “Help Get The Word Out.” According to the Palm Beach Post: “Americans for Prosperity, closely allied with tea party efforts, also is planning to tell members about the campaign against the justices. AFP, a grass-roots activist organization, was founded by Charles Koch and part-time Palm Beacher David Koch, billionaire brothers who back a host of conservative causes. ‘We’ve reached out to Restore Justice,’ said Slade O’Brien, AFP’s state director, based in Boca Raton. ‘There’s really a lack of information about these justices, and we want to help get the word out.’ O’Brien said that with key portions of the agenda of Florida’s Republican-ruled legislature and Gov. Rick Scott challenged in court, the justices deserve a closer look.” [Palm Beach Post, 4/28/12]

New York Times Editorial: Effort To Remove Justices “Being Aided And Abetted” By Gov. Scott. According to a New York Times editorial: “But this year’s antiretention drive, which is being led by a group based in Orlando with ties to the Tea Party, Restore Justice 2012, appears more robust, and it is being aided and abetted by the Republican governor, Rick Scott. Restore Justice is focusing on the judges’ records. For his part, the governor has seized on the judges’ sloppy but innocuous use of court staff to notarize required financial disclosure filings. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, ordered by Mr. Scott, found no evidence that the judges abused their official positions — a conclusion seconded by the state attorney, Willie Meggs. But instead of accepting this exoneration, Mr. Scott gave his blessing to a meritless lawsuit filed in June by a right-wing legal policy group based in Georgia that calls for disqualification on the same grounds.” [New York Times Editorial Board, 7/31/12]

Southeastern Legal Foundation Tried To Get Justices Removed From The Ballot. The Associated Press reported: “A conservative Atlanta-based legal organization, the Southeastern Legal Foundation, filed a complaint last week for declaratory and injunctive relief and asked a Leon County court to prohibit Secretary of State Ken Detzner from placing the three Justices on November’s statewide ballot. The group said the justices may have violated ethics rules because they raise money to urge voters to keep them on the bench.” [Associated Press, 7/5/12]

[NARRATOR:] America needed health care reform, but was the new health care law the right reform? It gave Washington more control over our health care, and it will cost trillions. Most Americans oppose it. That’s why many states like Ohio gave their citizens the right to vote against it. Not Florida. Our own Supreme Court denied our right to choose for ourselves. Shouldn’t our courts protect our rights to choose? You be the judge. Visit to get the facts and sign the petition. [Americans for Prosperity via, 9/25/12]