First Edition: June 25, 2012
Today's headlines are focused on analysis and speculation surrounding the Supreme Court's health law ruling, which could come as early as today.
Kaiser Health News: Questions Abound About The Pocketbook Effect Of A Court Decision
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey reports: "The prospect of the Supreme Court striking down the entire health law or some of its key elements has many people in Washington abuzz about what happens next. What about the federal grants that have been awarded as part of the law's implementation? Does the shrinking 'doughnut hole' in seniors' drug coverage grow again? Would consumers lose their protection against out-of-pocket costs for preventive services?” (Carey, 6/22). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Q & A: Preventive Benefits And 'Grandfathered' Health Plans (Video)
Kaiser Health News' "Insuring Your Health" columnist Michelle Andrews answers a question from a reader about "grandfathered" health plans, which don't need to comply with new rules about benefits for preventive care -- but only in the near term (6/24). Watch the video.
Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy headlines, including reports about how the White House might react if the Supreme Court strikes down the health law (6/24) and how the GOP weekly address blasted the sweeping overhaul (6/23).
The New York Times: Washington Memo: Polarized Over Health Care, United On Drama Of Ruling
The impending heath care ruling by the Supreme Court has become this city’s O. J. Simpson verdict crossed with a papal conclave — polarizing, maddeningly unpredictable and shrouded in mysterious signaling. The ruling is expected to come this week, either shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday, the last scheduled day of the term, or on an extra day later in the week (Steinhauer, 6/24).
The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Guessing Game Grips The Capital
A wave of anxious preparation has spread across Washington and beyond as both sides of the debate wait for the court to decide its biggest case in years. Some have taken to monitoring the justices' body language at public appearances for clues on the decision and tracking the odds of particular outcomes on online trading markets (Adamy and Bravin, 6/24).
Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Could Rule For Both Sides On Healthcare, Immigration
The Supreme Court is set this week to decide the politically charged constitutional clashes between President Obama and Republicans over his healthcare law and his immigration enforcement policy. By most accounts, the justices must make a stark, clear choice either to endorse Obama's policies — including the mandate for all to have health insurance — or to strike them down as flatly unconstitutional. But the justices could rule in unexpected ways that would allow both sides to claim a victory (Savage, 6/25).
The Wall Street Journal: Federal Power At Issue In Key Cases
The Supreme Court's decisions on the 2010 health-care overhaul and Arizona's tough anti-immigration law, due out this week, are likely to help set the confines of federal power for decades to come. Both are about defining that boundary with the states, a point of tension since the founding of the nation. Even this year's political campaign is raising the federalism issue as the parties debate the proper level of Washington spending and taxes at a time of high budget deficits (Bravin, 6/24).
Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Most Americans Oppose Health Law But Like Provisions
Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama's healthcare reform even though they strongly support most of its provisions, Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Sunday, with the Supreme Court set to rule within days on whether the law should stand (Zengerle, 6/24).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: In Court Ruling On Health Care Law, Impact On Stocks Is High And Uncertain. How They May Fare
Insurers and other health care companies are facing costly new restrictions and fees under the new law. The Republicans, the party most associated with big business, hate it. So if President Obama's health care overhaul is repealed by the Supreme Court this month, companies would rejoice, right? Well, not all of them (6/23).
USA Today: Supreme Court's Health Care Decision Could Affect Millions
For most Americans, the Supreme Court's ruling next week on President Obama's health care law will be largely an academic exercise with political fallout — but not yet personal implications. For millions of people, however — some young, some old, some sick — the law already is affecting their pulse rates and pocketbooks, and a decision to strike it down could come with a medical or financial cost (Wolf, 6/23).
Politico: Defense Appropriators Eye 'Obamacare' Money
If the Supreme Court strikes down the health care reform law, that loss for President Barack Obama could be a win for the Pentagon. That's because Congress could find itself flush, thanks to billions of dollars that were allocated to fund "Obamacare" that won't be spent if parts of the law are knocked down. And that money would be freed up just as a battle over automatic cuts to the Defense Department budget heats up on the Hill (Gaskell, 6/24).
The New York Times: Putting On A Brave Face, But Preparing For Heartbreak On Health Care
Mr. Obama and the White House have put on brave faces, insisting that the law and the mandate at its center will be upheld when the court rules this month. In private conversations, they predict that the bulk of the law will survive even if the mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance does not. But even if the White House is a fortress of message discipline, it cannot disguise the potential heartbreak for Mr. Obama, who managed to achieve a decades-old Democratic dream despite long odds and at steep cost (Kantor, 6/23).
The Washington Post: Obama's Legal Tactics Seen As Possibly Hurting Chances To Save Health-Care Law
Some prominent legal scholars say a series of tactical decisions by President Obama's legal team may have hurt the chances of saving his landmark health-care legislation from being gutted by Supreme Court conservatives. The warnings are a preview of the finger-pointing certain to ensue if the law is overturned. That could come sometime this week, when the justices are expected to decide on the constitutionality of the health-care law and its centerpiece provision mandating that all Americans purchase insurance or pay a penalty (Wallsten, 6/23).
The New York Times: Supporters Slow To Grasp Health Law's Legal Risks
A White House that had assumed any challenge would fail now fears that a centerpiece of Mr. Obama's presidency may be partly or completely overturned on a theory that it gave little credence. The miscalculation left the administration on the defensive as its legal strategy evolved over the last two years. "It led to some people taking it too lightly," said a Congressional lawyer who like others involved in drafting the law declined to be identified before the ruling. "It shouldn't strike anybody as a close call," the lawyer added, but "given where we are now, do I wish we had focused even more on this? I guess I would say yes" (Baker, 6/23).
Politico: HHS Pushes Out Cash Ahead Of Ruling
Conservatives wanted the White House to stop spending on the health care law until the Supreme Court rules on whether it's constitutional. But the administration has forged ahead, spending at least $2.7 billion since oral arguments in the case ended on March 28. That's more than double the amount that was handed out in the three-month period leading up to the arguments, according to a POLITICO review of funding announcements from the Department of Health and Human Services (Feder, Smith and Cheney, 6/23).
The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: For Illinois Residents With Medicare Drug Coverage, 'Doughnut Hole' Savings Average $636
Thousands of Illinois residents with high medication costs are seeing some gains from a provision of the Affordable Care Act aimed at shrinking the Medicare drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole" (6/24).
The New York Times: Oregon Study Shows Benefits, And Price, For Newly Insured
But in 2008, Oregon opened its Medicaid rolls to some working-age adults living in poverty, like Ms. Parris. Lacking the money to cover everyone, the state established a lottery, and Ms. Parris was one of the 89,824 residents who entered in the hope of winning insurance. With that lottery, Oregon became a laboratory for studying the effects of extending health insurance to people who previously did not have it. Health economists say the state has become the single best place to study a question at the center of debate in Washington as the Supreme Court prepares to rule, likely next week, on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law: What are the costs and benefits of coverage (Lowrey, 6/22)?
The Associated Press: US Health Care Reform Efforts Through History
The Supreme Court's upcoming ruling on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law comes after a century of debate over what role the government should play in helping people in the United States afford medical care. A look at the issue through the years (Cass, 6/24).
The Wall Street Journal: The Health PAC To Watch? Dentists
In election years, low-profile industry lobbies get a chance to be major political players. This time, it's the dentists' turn. Though overshadowed by health-care behemoths such as the American Medical Association, dentists boasted the largest single health-care political-action committee, ADPAC, in 2008, according to the nonpartisan campaign-watchdog site OpenSecrets.org. The American Dental Association PAC gave more than $2 million to federal candidates and parties in that election (Mundy, 6/22).
The New York Times: More Stringent Requirements Send Nurses Back to School
Jennifer Matton is going to college for the third time, no easy thing with a job, church groups and four children with activities from lacrosse to Boy Scouts. She always planned to return to school, but as it turned out, she had little choice: her career depended on it. Ms. Matton, a nurse, works at Abington Memorial Hospital, one of hundreds around the country that have started to require that their nurses have at least a bachelor's degree in nursing. Many more hospitals prefer to hire those with such degrees (Perez-Pena, 6/23).
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