Today’s Headlines – June 8, 2012

The Washington Post: White House, Lawmakers Prepare For Supreme Court Ruling On Obama’s Health-Care Law
In this city of rumors and leaks, it has been an excruciating lead-up to the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s health-care law. The decision is just days away, but virtually no one knows precisely when it will come or what it will say. Each day brings a new wave of speculation via Twitter and Washington gossip channels. And behind the scenes, Republicans and Democrats are strategizing about what to do in the moments and days after the most consequential high court decision in a generation — a ruling that will reverberate politically and in the lives of everyday Americans (Somashekhar and Aizenman, 6/14).

The New York Times: With Justices Set To Rule On Health Law, 2 Parties Strategize
House Republicans are not waiting for the Supreme Court verdict on the new health care law to plot their strategic response. If the measure is not thrown out entirely, House leaders plan to force a vote immediately to repeal the law to reinforce their deep opposition to the legislation, opposition that has become central to their political identity (Weisman and Shear, 6/14).

For more headlines … 

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Inside: The Secret Keepers: Meet The U.S. Supreme Court Clerks
With a ruling expected soon in the landmark U.S. healthcare case, Supreme Court watchers have scoured the landscape for clues about how the nine justices will vote. But they left one stone unturned. Make that 36. That is the number of law clerks who serve the justices, do their research, help draft their opinions and exert a not insignificant influence on their thinking (Baynes, 6/14).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Any Supreme Court Ruling Hurts Nonprofit Hospitals
No matter how the Supreme Court decides on the national healthcare law, nonprofit hospitals will face a rocky future, Moody’s Investors Service said in a study published on Thursday. Within the next two weeks the highest court in the country is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that has inspired both political and legal battles from the moment President Barack Obama signed it into law more than two years ago (6/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: News Organizations Ask Supreme Court For Live Audio, Video Coverage Of Health Care Ruling
News organizations are asking the Supreme Court to allow cameras in the courtroom for the first time for its eagerly awaited decision on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press executive director Lucy Dalglish says the court should allow live audio and video coverage of the decision, expected in the next two weeks (6/14).

Los Angeles Times: Public Agrees On Deficit As A Problem, But Not On Solutions
The government’s deficit involves two separate problems. One is the impact of the bad economy, which pushes tax revenues down while increasing spending on programs including unemployment insurance, food stamps and Medicaid. Even if the economy fully recovers, however, the second part of the deficit – the built-in part — would remain. It results from a simple fact of life – the average age of the U.S. population is going up, meaning that more retirees are eligible for Social Security, Medicare and other benefit programs for the elderly, which currently make up about half of every dollar the federal government spends (Lauter, 6/15).

Los Angeles Times: In Answer To Obama, Boehner Highlights GOP Building Efforts
Hours before President Obama delivers an economic address in Cleveland, House Speaker John A. Boehner is out with a prebuttal intended to spotlight GOP efforts in Congress to boost the economy and create jobs. In the online video, Boehner stands at his desk in the speaker’s office before a table full of bills that have passed the Republican-led House but stalled in the Senate, where the Democratic majority has largely panned them. The bills hew to the GOP’s small-government mantra: dismantle federal regulations, expand domestic energy production, repeal Obama’s healthcare law, revamp Medicare and cut domestic spending, among others (Mascaro, 6/14).

Chicago Tribune: Romney Raises Millions At Chicago Campaign Event
Romney repeatedly contended that Obama’s agenda would further inject government into the free-market system, using the president’s health care overhaul law as an example. That agenda, he said, has created economic uncertainty that has restrained business growth (Pearson, 6/15).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GAO Report: Feds Spent $102M On Medicaid Fraud Contracts, But Only Identified $20M
Private contractors received $102 million to review Medicaid fraud data, yet had only found about $20 million in overpayments since 2008, according to a new report by the federal government. “Significant federal and state resources are being poured in but only limited results are coming out,” said Ann Maxwell, a regional inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (6/14).

Los Angeles Times: Costs Exceed Results In Medicaid Fraud Program
An audit program meant to combat Medicaid fraud has cost taxpayers about $102 million since 2008 while identifying less than $20 million in overpayments, according to a report released by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office on Thursday. The National Medicaid Audit Program used incomplete federal data to conduct 1,550 audits, and apparently because of that, the majority of the audits failed to find any fraud, the GAO said at a Senate hearing (Goldberg, 6/14).

Politico: Red States Eye Health Exchanges
Some conservative experts see reason to hope the states that have been fighting the health care reform law could become hotbeds of health policymaking if the Affordable Care Act fails. They say the work many red states have been quietly doing to comply with the law in case they lose in the Supreme Court could be repurposed to create state-based reforms on a more conservative model. Some states, for instance, may look at their own version of Utah’s small-business insurance exchange (Feder, 6/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Hawaii Governor Decides Intent For State-Based Insurance Exchange Under US Health Care Reform
Gov. Neil Abercrombie says Hawaii is the first state to declare its intent to develop a state-based insurance exchange — a key component of federal health care overhaul. The Obama Administration’s health care reform law calls for states to establish exchanges by 2014. The exchanges are marketplaces where individuals and small businesses may choose from an array of private health coverage plans (6/14).

Chicago Tribune: Quinn Says Medicaid Cuts Were Needed To Prevent Collapse
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a series of bills into law Thursday aimed at saving the state’s troubled health care program for the poor through a combination of deep cuts and a $1-a-pack cigarette tax increase. The moves are aimed at closing a $2.7 billion funding gap created by years of overspending, which had saddled the Medicaid program with so much debt that the Democratic governor said it was on the brink of collapse (Garcia and Groeninger, 6/15).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: For Some Druggists, Medicaid Changes Mean Pain
CVS Caremark, which this spring became one of seven pharmacy benefit managers handling Medicaid recipients’ claims, said that its rates are competitive and there is a firm barrier between its benefit management program and CVS retail pharmacies. The transition to managed care this spring was bumpy, with numerous computer errors and miscommunications between the State Health and Human Services Commission, pharmacists and the pharmacy benefit managers (Aaronson, 6/14).