KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Judge Releases Schedule For Health Overhaul Lawsuit Proceedings; Poll Finds Voters Indifferent To Candidates’ Reform Positions

The federal judge overseeing a lawsuit brought by 20 states against health reform released a schedule this week that lays out how the case will proceed, The Hill's Healthwatch Blog reports. "The hearing and oral argument on the motion for summary judgment will be held Dec. 16. Florida Northern District Senior Judge Roger Vinson's amended final scheduling order, signed Wednesday, states that the judge will enter his written order on the motion to dismiss on or before Oct. 14." The states' attorneys general are challenging a mandate in the new law that all Americans carry health coverage or face a fine as well as an expansion of the state-federal health program Medicaid (Pecquet, 9/16).

The Hill's Healthwatch Blog, in a separate story: A survey has found the new health law will "have little influence over voters' choices when they hit the polls in November … [41] percent of respondents said a lawmaker's vote on the reform law would 'not make much difference' in choosing a candidate, according to the CBS News/New York Times survey. Furthermore, the percentage of voters (28 percent) saying they're 'more likely' to choose a member who supported the reforms is precisely the same as those who said they'd be 'less likely' to pick that candidate - a wash suggesting a certain futility in both party's efforts to use the law to their advantage in November's midterms" (Lillis, 9/16).

CongressDaily: The American Medical Association, which supported the federal health care overhaul, is backing a candidate who is seeking to repeal the law. "The AMA and its state counterpart, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, this week contributed $5,000 to former GOP Rep. Pat Toomey, whose promise to scrap the health law has been a key plank of his campaign for the Senate. … [The contribution] has raised eyebrows among some of the advocates for health reform who stood with the AMA during a protracted legislative process. ... AMA President Cecil Wilson said that his group would continue to support the Affordable Care Act. He said the contribution reflects Toomey's commitment to changing the laws on injury litigation and also to fixing the formula Medicare uses to determine physician reimbursement rates" (DoBias, 9/17).

National Journal: The debate over the health overhaul has exposed the AMA to criticism from state affiliates, notably when the Florida Medical Association considered ending its affiliation over how the national arm of the organization handled and endorsed health reform. "Florida was not alone in its opposition. Physicians groups in Georgia, Texas, and several other states hold corresponding views. 'During the divisive debate over health reform, it was impossible for the AMA, the nation's largest physician membership organization, to please everyone,' … Wilson said in a statement. In the end, however, the AMA and the Florida affiliate elected to continue their association, agreeing to seek changes to the new law. In a separate case, but one with similar undertones, the nation's largest insurance lobby watched this summer as five of its biggest members banded together to press for health policy that's more in line with their views. Although still dues-paying members of America's Health Insurance Plans, insurance giants Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint, Humana, and Cigna aligned to create a separate organization, in part over unhappiness with the final reform law, according to a source familiar with new group's internal discussions" (DoBias, 9/17).

CNBC: Robert Reich, a former secretary of the Labor Department, said Thursday that the "budget problems that come from federal spending and entitlements, such as Social Security, pale in comparison with the challenges of containing health care costs and maintaining Medicare at the level of treatment Americans expect." Reich said the cost of Medicare, the growing tide of Baby Boomers who need a lot of care and the government lack of real control over health costs are the main culprits of the problems (Lodge, 9/16).

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