As Attacks Continue, So Do Health Law Implementation Efforts, Challenges
The Hill and Reuters report on the health law's numerous 2012 battle fronts — starting with the Supreme Court's review of the law and moving toward the November elections. Meanwhile, however, other news outlets report on continuing implementation of the measure, including the creation of a federal health exchange and defense of its prevention fund.
The Hill: Year Ahead: Health Law Under Attack On All Fronts
President Obama's health care reform law will be under attack on every conceivable front next year. Its first life-or-death experience lies in the hands of the Supreme Court, which could potentially strike down the Affordable Care Act as early as June. Even if the high court upholds the law, it could remove its individual mandate — prompting a bitter debate in Congress and within the administration on how to go forward without it. Next obstacle: the November elections. Every Republican presidential candidate has vowed to repeal the law, through executive orders and by signing repeal legislation. Republicans are expected to keep control of the House, and with Democrats defending 23 seats in the Senate, the GOP has a shot at gaining the 60-member majority needed to get anything through (Pecquet, 12/18).
Reuters: Analysis: Deficit May Be Biggest Threat To Health Care Reforms
A mounting U.S. deficit could pose a much greater threat to the survival of President Barack Obama's health care reforms than either the Supreme Court or 2012 elections. ... Former top health care policymakers from Democratic and Republican administrations warn that some of the most promising measures for controlling costs, while improving quality and access to care, could run aground as early as 2013 if a new Congress and administration respond to the fiscal pressures with arbitrary spending cuts (Morgan, 12/18).
Kaiser Health News: Feds Face Challenges In Launching U.S. Health Exchange
With many states unwilling or unable to get insurance exchanges operational by the health care law's deadline of Jan. 1, 2014, pressure is growing on the federal government to do the job for them. But health care experts are starting to ask whether the fallback federal exchange called for in the 2010 law will be operational by the deadline in states that will not have their exchanges ready (Appleby, 12/19).
CQ HealthBeat: Preventive Services May Improve Health, But Not Health Care Costs
The health care law provides $15 billion in mandatory spending over 10 years, starting in fiscal 2010, for a "sustained national investment" to improve health and help restrain costs in the private and public sectors. The prevention fund supports research, health screenings and immunization programs, and it will pay for local efforts to increase exercise, improve people's diets and reduce tobacco use. Congress has appropriated $1.25 billion for the fund. ... "The prevention and public health fund represents one of the most meaningful investments in wellness in our history," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a champion of disease prevention programs (Bristol, 12/16).
California Healthline: PCIP Enrollment Numbers Rise A Bit
In the first year after the program launched in October 2010, it added about 375 enrollees a month. At the one-year mark, enrollment stood at about 5,000 Californians. That was a far cry from early guesses about how many people would sign up. The capacity of the program was originally estimated at 23,000, so it has been an ongoing concern for MRMIB officials that the enrollment growth rate has been relatively mild. Recently, those numbers have climbed. In the past couple of months, new enrollees topped 700 a month, and rose above 800 in the past month (Gorn, 12/16).
Propublica: Government Runs Late With Rules For Disclosing Drug Company Payments to Doctors
The federal government has fallen behind in its effort to publish the payments that pharmaceutical and medical device companies make to physicians. It might even miss a deadline to do so by 2013, officials disclosed last night. The government is required to make the information available under the Affordable Care Act, the controversial health insurance overhaul President Obama signed into law last year. The federal agency responsible for administering the law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was supposed to publish proposed regulations governing the collection and release of the payment data by Oct. 1. But CMS only did so last night (Respaut, 12/15).