KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Groups Sharpen Distinctions On Health Reform Repeal As Court Cases Continue

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch: "With Republicans set to take control of Ohio and the U.S. House of Representatives, patient advocates say they are worried about the future of health-care reform.  ... 'We're in a race against time because the more the public understands the benefit of health-care reform, the less support there will be for outright repeal,' said Cathy Levine, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio. ... '[The law has] become a political football, but today's controversial policies were actually first supported by Republicans.' That includes, Levine said, the mandate that will require all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty." Ohio's Attorney General-elect Mike DeWine has said he'll join a lawsuit taking aim at the law, and Ohio Rep. John Boehner, a Republican, set to become House speaker and has promised a vote on repeal of the law (Hoholik, 11/29).

Health plans, however, aren't necessarily supporting a repeal, American Medical News reports. "Health plan executives say they recognize that moving forward with the new law makes sense for the industry, whose companies have spent considerable time and money adjusting to health system reform." Insurers do want to change the law, but they have "stayed away from discussing the specific tweaks they would like" (Berry, 11/29).

Bay Area News Group/San Jose Mercury News: "'Repeal this?' House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-[Calif.], asked in his news release. 'Republicans in Washington have pledged to repeal the health care law. If they succeed, they will be taking money right out of the pocket of millions of average Americans. They might think that's a good idea but I certainly don't. So let's just be very clear about what's at stake when Republicans call for the repeal of the new health care law'" (Richman, 11/29).

Orlando Sentinel: Florida "led the charge" against the law by filing a lawsuit challenging it, Republican lawmakers there have drafted a constitutional amendment against the mandate in the law to purchase health insurance and state lawmakers there are also poised to block spending on the law. "And Gov.-elect Rick Scott has also made clear he doesn't want the state doing anything to help the law along" (Deslatte, 11/28).

The Hill notes that a decision last week "by a federal judge in Ohio marks at least the third time a legal challenge to Democrats' healthcare law has been allowed to go forward, underscoring the extent to which the legal push for repeal is gaining momentum. ... A number of Republicans have signed onto a 21-state challenge to the law that seems almost certain to end up at the Supreme Court. Newly elected governors in at least five states are also preparing to join the fray, even as advocates of the law push back. ... The Ohio lawsuit is one of about 20 healthcare reform challenges that have been filed across the country, according to information compiled by The Independent Women's Forum. Some of the actions are narrowly focused - physician-owned hospitals in Texas, for example, are alleging discrimination against their business model - several directly challenge the individual mandate" (Pecquet, 11/27).

The New York Times: "As the Obama administration presses ahead with the health care law, officials are bracing for the possibility that a federal judge in Virginia will soon reject its central provision as unconstitutional and, in the worst case for the White House, halt its enforcement until higher courts can rule. The judge, Henry E. Hudson of Federal District Court in Richmond, has promised to rule by the end of the year on the constitutionality of the law's requirement that most Americans obtain insurance, which takes effect in 2014."

"While many newly empowered Republican lawmakers have vowed to repeal the health care law in Congress, a more immediate threat may rest in the federal courts in cases brought by Republican officials in dozens of states. Not only would an adverse ruling confuse Americans and attack the law's underpinnings, it could frustrate the steps hospitals, insurers and government agencies are taking to carry out the law" (Sack and Pear, 11/26).

Politico: Meanwhile, President Obama defended the law in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters. "And despite the intense criticism and political costs, the president said the health care overhaul will be 'a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of'" (Parnes, 11/26).


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