Today’s Headlines – April 3, 2012

Good morning! Here’s what the health policy news looks like this morning:

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Calls House GOP Budget Plan A Trojan Horse For ‘Radical’ Change
Obama, in a speech to newspaper executives, is sharply criticizing a $3.5 trillion budget proposal pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which passed on a near-party-line vote last week and has been embraced by GOP presidential hopefuls. The plan has faced fierce resistance from Democrats, who say it would gut Medicare, slash taxes for the wealthy and lead to deep cuts to crucial programs such as aid to college students and highway and rail projects (4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Warns Supreme Court
President Barack Obama predicted Monday that the Supreme Court would uphold his signature health-care law and said that overturning it would be a prime example of judicial overreach. It was a rare instance of a president laying out his own arguments about a Supreme Court case before the justices are set to reach their decision (Meckler and Lee, 4/2).

For more headlines …

The New York Times: President Confident Health Law Will Stand
In his first public comments since court questioning last week suggested that it might find the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, Mr. Obama offered both a robust defense of the law and a barbed warning to justices thinking of striking it down (Landler, 4/2).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Obama Takes A Shot At Supreme Court Over Healthcare
President Barack Obama took an opening shot at conservative justices on the Supreme Court on Monday, warning that a rejection of his sweeping healthcare law would be an act of “judicial activism” that Republicans say they abhor (Mason, 4/2).

USA Today: Obama Warns Against ‘Judicial Activism’ On Health Care Law
Obama predicted the justices would uphold the law, despite strong reservations voiced by four conservative justices about its requirement that most Americans buy insurance or pay a penalty. A fifth justice, Clarence Thomas, is widely expected to vote against the “individual mandate” (Wolf and Jackson, 4/2).

Politico: Obama, The Left Take On Supreme Court
President Barack Obama has joined a growing number of Democratic lawmakers, left-leaning commentators and progressive activists who are warning the Supreme Court on the health care law: Don’t you dare overturn it (Budoff Brown and Epstein, 4/3).

The New York Times: The ABC’s Of The Health Law And Its Future
After the contentious arguments before the Supreme Court last week, the future of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is far from certain. The legislation is enormously complex, with thousands of pages of provisions, but at its center is a controversial requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance. The justices will decide whether the so-called individual mandate is constitutional, and if not, whether the entire law must be overturned (Kolata, 4/2).

The New York Times: Justices’ Cerebral Combativeness On Display
Over three days of intense arguments on the future of President Obama’s health care law, the public got a vivid glimpse of an institution at once immensely powerful and intensely human, one packed with brainy, funny and assertive justices prepared to confront and decide the most urgent issues of the day (Liptak, 4/2).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Sotomayor Doesn’t Drop Any Health Care Hints At UDC Speech
Justice Sonia Sotomayor is giving no hints on what the Supreme Court is going to do on the question of whether President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul law is constitutional. Sotomayor was the featured speaker Monday night at a lecture hosted by the University of the District of Columbia (4/2).

Politico: Poll: The High Court And Health Care
The historic Supreme Court hearings on President Barack Obama’s health care reform did not affect most Americans’ views of the law and the court, but they did make more people feel less favorable than favorable about both, a new poll has found (Lee, 4/3).

The Washington Post: Behind The Numbers: Political Fallout: High Court Showdown Hurts Health Care Law, And Justices
Most Americans say their views of the controversial 2010 health care law — and of the Supreme Court itself — are unmoved by last week’s showdown at the high court, according to a new poll by the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center. But the three days of arguments also sliced into public attitudes about the law and the court, with positions hardening along partisan lines (Cohen, Craighill and Clement, 4/2).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: ‘Obamacare’ And Rising Health Insurance Premiums
Be wary of the single data point, exploited either by Democrats or Republicans. This new RNC ad slams the Obama health care law for already causing a boost in health care premiums. … The ad, repeating the myth that the law is a “health care takeover,” also asserts that costs in one part of the health care law are soaring, a claim we have debunked before (Kessler, 4/2).

The New York Times: White House And The FDA Often At Odds
The internal clashes over F.D.A. policy played out against a broader backdrop of regulatory politics. Republicans have made the charge that Mr. Obama is an overzealous and job-killing regulator — a central element of their case against his re-election. And on issues from clean air to investor protections, the White House has been carefully calibrating its election season positions (Harris, 4/2).

NPR Shots Blog: As Health Care Giants Merge, Pharmacies Aren’t Happy
Express Scripts sealed its long-planned deal to buy Medco Health Solutions on Monday after the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-1 that it would not stifle competition in the industry. The two companies already provide prescription drug benefit services to some 135 million people — more than 1 out of every 3 Americans. But while the FTC might not think the $29 billion union of Express Scripts and Medco threatens the market for how prescription drugs are distributed to patients, owners of brick-and-mortar drugstores certainly do (Rovner, 4/2).

USA Today: Health Statistics Help Shape Local Policies
Better access to health care data helps local governments improve preventive health policies aimed at reducing overall medical costs, say researchers who released the third annual national County Health Rankings today (Kennedy, 4/2).

The New York Times: Regulator Orders Hospitals To Undo A Merger In Ohio
The Federal Trade Commission has blocked an Ohio hospital merger in a closely watched case that could slow the consolidation of health care providers around the country (Pear, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: State Suspends Plan To End ER-Visit Payments
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has suspended a plan for the state’s Medicaid agency to stop paying for certain emergency-room visits. The planned cuts, which were designed to reduce health-care costs and were set to go into effect April 1, drew opposition from hospitals and doctors, who said they would be stuck with bills for care they often would be legally required to provide (Mathews, 4/2).