Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on Monday rejected an effort by a group of physicians and surgeons to block a registration requirement under the new health care insurance law because, the group argued, the law itself was unconstitutional.
The request in American Physicians & Surgeons v. Sebelius was one of a flurry of applications related to the health care law filed shortly before and after New Year's Day. The others are still pending.
The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons and the Alliance for Natural Health USA sought to enjoin a requirement that non-Medicare physicians register in the online Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) in order to refer Medicare-eligible patients for covered services, such as blood work and x-rays, to Medicare providers of those services.
The Department of Health & Human Services had set an effective date of Jan. 6. The physicians challenged the requirement in federal district court in Washington, D.C., in 2010, but the court dismissed the complaint. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is scheduled to hear the appeal on Jan. 9.
In their request for an injunction pending final decision on their appeal, the physicians and the Alliance argued that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is void under the origination clause of the Constitution and thus there is no authority for the Medicare registration requirement. The health care law, they argued, was a revenue-raising measure that originated in the U.S. Senate instead of, as required, in the House of Representatives.
The two groups also made procedural arguments against the validity of the registration requirement.
Roberts made no comment in rejecting the injunction request as well as the request for high court review before judgment in the appeals court.