KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Brace For Impact Of Health Law Ruling

Even with the health law's future in question, news reports indicate that some states are pressing forward with implementation, while another -- Massachusetts -- considers itself untouched by what becomes of the federal law. All the while, the politics of the health overhaul will play a significant role at the state level, too.

WBUR's State of Health blog: Why Historic SCOTUS Case Doesn't Really Matter For Massachusetts
The question for the high court is whether the requirement that residents have health insurance is constitutional. But either way, it is already part of state law in Massachusetts and would stand regardless of what the Supreme Court decides. ... Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe says, "there are no legal issues before the Court in which a decision would either trump the Massachusetts law or compel a review of that law." ... What if the justices decide the federal government can't force states to expand coverage for low income residents? Massachusetts is doing this voluntarily (Bebinger, 3/26). 

Kaiser Health News: In Conservative California, Confusion And Contempt For Health Law
Here, just a few miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park, is the Sweetwater Steakhouse, a local watering hole where no one is shy about their opinions of President Obama's signature initiative. ... By and large, conservative voters in the county despise the federal health law's mandate that all Americans have health coverage, and many suspect the health insurance system isn't really all that broken (Varney, 3/24).

Arizona Republic: Arizona Moves Forward On Health Law
The U.S. Supreme Court is opening its debate today on whether the nation's new health care law is constitutional. Regardless of its legality, the law already has delivered significant changes in how hundreds of thousands of Arizonans get care. And despite Gov. Jan Brewer's opposition to the law, millions of dollars are earmarked for the next steps in implementing it (Alltucker, 3/26).

The Detroit Free Press: 500,000 More In Michigan To Be Eligible For Medicaid Coverage
A half-million more Michiganders will be eligible for Medicaid, the government-funded health program for poor people, when the most sweeping provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act take effect in 2014. Supporters of the law say covering more poor people is not just socially responsible, it ultimately saves money: Better care keeps chronic conditions in check. But opponents will argue this week to the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress is overstepping its bounds by pushing the expansion onto states, which will lose their federal Medicaid funds if eligibility is not expanded (Erb, 3/26).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Health Care Law Gaining Momentum
After two years, the Affordable Care Act has yet to dramatically alter the health-care landscape in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but the controversial law, facing a U.S. Supreme Court challenge this week, has expanded insurance coverage in small ways and added momentum to changes already under way in the health care system. … The biggest impact of the health-reform law so far in Pennsylvania and New Jersey is probably in the massive amount of preparation for 2014, when Medicaid is expanded -- a big worry for hospitals and doctor practices -- and health-insurance exchanges begin offering insurance to individuals (Brubaker, 3/25).

Minnesota Public Radio: State: Health Care Law Repeal Would Hit Harder Outside MN
Other states are likely to be affected more if the court dismantles the law, but Minnesotans still have reason to pay attention. One of the main goals of the federal health care law is to expand health care coverage to 30 million Americans who don't have insurance. That's a big deal for community clinics like the Community University Health Care Center in Minneapolis, where one out of every four patients has no insurance. ... Statewide, nearly half a million people do not have insurance (Stawicki, 3/26). 

Denver Post: Individual Mandate A Key Colorado Issue As High Court Reviews Health Care Act
Can the federal government require you to eat broccoli? To opponents of the Affordable Care Act, the requirement that all U.S. citizens buy health insurance sets a precedent that could be abused in the future -- from mandating the purchase of solar panels to leafy greens. To proponents of the national law facing Supreme Court scrutiny this week, health care is a unique marketplace that virtually every American -- even the homeless guy living under a bridge -- intersects at some point, so requiring everyone to contribute is constitutionally justified (Allison Sherry, 3/25).

Denver Post: Supreme Court Arguments This Week On 2-Year-Old Health Care Law Fan Old Flames Of Debate
Colorado's bad law/good law face-off over health care reform will begin anew Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court starts an unprecedented three days of arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. With the two-year anniversary of the law's signing last Friday, backers and opponents of the act are counting up their gains and losses. The 2010 act has already transformed the cost of health care for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. But it has yet to fulfill its promise of reining in health costs for business and government, leaving the dispute as bitter as ever (Booth, 3/25).

The Seattle Times: If 'Obamacare' Falls, McKenna Could Pay Political Price
Ever since he joined the multistate lawsuit challenging President Obama's health-care overhaul, state Attorney General Rob McKenna has taken pains to say his goal is not to kill the entire law. McKenna, the Republican gubernatorial hopeful, has voiced support for the more popular provisions -- such as allowing children to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26, and the ban on insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. The lawsuit will not strike down those patient protections, McKenna has repeatedly said. Its purpose was to challenge the constitutionality of just a couple provisions, he says, chiefly the requirement that most Americans buy private health insurance by 2014 or face a fine (Brunner, 3/24). 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia A Player In Health Law Case Today
When the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments Monday on the health care law, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will have a coveted seat in the courtroom, where where he will monitor the case on behalf of the state's residents. Georgia is one of the 26 states challenging the law on constitutional grounds. … The states selected high-profile attorney Paul Clement, who was President George W. Bush's solicitor general, to argue their case. While Clement will be in the spotlight, Olens said his office has helped prepare the legal briefs for the case. Georgia has also helped craft the legal strategy through a set of standing phone calls during which attorneys general from across the country weighed in on the case, Olens said (Teegardin, 3/26).

CQ HealthBeat: Beyond The Health Care Arguments: The Waiting Games
When the Supreme Court finishes its third and final day of arguments about the health care law on Wednesday, a national waiting game for a decision will begin. And for some of the states charged with the nitty-gritty work of implementing the overhaul, there will be a second waiting game that might not end until after the November elections. Experts in state health policy say that political leaders in Republican-controlled states that have fiercely resisted the overhaul might not let this matter drop, even if the justices uphold the entire health care law, which 26 states are challenging (Norman, 3/23).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.