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Today’s Headlines – August 15, 2011

Good morning! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about Friday’s ruling on the health overhaul as well as other action related to the law and highlights from the weekend’s health policy developments.

The Wall Street Journal: Health Overhaul Is Dealt Setback
A U.S. appeals court in Atlanta handed the Obama administration its biggest defeat to date in the battle over the health-care overhaul passed last year, ruling the law’s mandate on Americans to carry health insurance was unconstitutional. Friday’s 207-page opinion and 84-page dissent made clear that views of the Obama administration’s signature law have increasingly hardened in place as voices from each side roll out familiar arguments and precedents to buttress their opposite conclusions (Kendall, 8/13).

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Politico: 11th Circuit Says Mandate Unconstitutional
The panel partially upheld a ruling issued in January by Judge Roger Vinson, who struck down the entire health reform law. However, the 11th Circuit said that the rest of the legislation can stand even if the mandate is unconstitutional. The panel also said that the law’s expansion of Medicaid is constitutional, ruling against the states (Habercorn, 8/13).

The Washington Post: Republicans, Health Industry Lobbyists Target Medicare Cost-Cutting Board
Even as congressional leaders launch the “supercommittee” charged with making major inroads with the nation’s debt, Republicans and health industry lobbyists are waging a sustained campaign against a panel with notably similar goals and powers that is a centerpiece of the new health-care law. Known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, it has been touted by President Obama as an essential tool for curbing Medicare spending over the long term (Aizenman, 8/13).

Los Angeles Times: Rep. Karen Bass Holds Healthcare Town Hall In L.A.
The event was hosted by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) as a forum on the implementation of President Obama’s healthcare reform law and to right what Bass called misinformation about the act. Participants included California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and the regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Herb Schultz. Bass also called on participants to rally opposition to changes, being proposed by many Congressional Republicans, to the national healthcare law. On Friday, a federal appeals court in Atlanta struck down a major piece of the law, ruling that Congress lacks authority to require that all Americans buy health insurance. Other appeals courts have upheld the law. Bass expressed disappointment at the latest ruling, calling it part of a “concerted effort” to repeal healthcare reform (Rivera, 8/15).

The Washington Post/Bloomberg: VA, Defense Developing Patient-Sharing System
Electronic health record vendors Epic Systems and Cerner may face competition from a joint patient information-sharing network being developed by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, analysts said. Prompted by President Obama’s push for medical facilities to adopt electronic records, hospitals may pay companies to modify the open-source code likely to power the government-developed system, rather than buying commercial systems, said Ed Meagher, former Veterans Affairs deputy chief information officer (Miller, 8/14).

Los Angeles Times: Ex-HMO Attorney Named Head Regulator Of California Health Plans
A former attorney for one of the nation’s largest HMOs has been picked to run the California agency that oversees health plans. Brent Barnhart, 68, was named by Gov. Jerry Brown this week to lead the California Department of Managed Health Care, which regulates HMO health coverage for more than 21 million Californians (Helfand, 8/12).