There’s hardly anything standing in the way of the Supreme Court taking up the 26-state challenge to the law’s individual mandate. Every party in the case asked the high court Wednesday to decide the issue — and quickly.
The Justice Department filed its petition late Wednesday, saying the 26-state suit is the right vehicle for the high court to weight the mandate and that a decision should come sooner rather than later. That most likely means the court will rule in the summer of 2012. But a DOJ official said the push for a quick hearing had nothing to do with the possibility that a Republican president would quit defending the healthcare law in the courts.
Healthwatch has more on the Justice Department’s brief. Be sure to also read our story on the Supreme Court appeal posted earlier in the day by the 26 attorneys general and the National Federation of Independent Business.
Food for children: The food industry sighed in relief Wednesday after the Obama administration appeared ready to scale back voluntary guidelines for marketing food to children. Advocates said they’re still confident regulators will adopt strict guidelines to fight childhood obesity.
The group working on the issue "anticipates making significant changes to both the marketing and nutrition principles" that have raised industry’s ire, administration officials wrote to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). The letter also praised a new industry self-regulation effort as complementing the group’s work. Healthwatch’s Julian Pecquet has the letter — and the story.
Cutting Medicare: Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) are pressing the deficit-reduction supercommittee to consider their proposal to cut more than $500 billion in Medicare spending over 10 years. Read The Hill’s story.
Ryan’s plan: Meanwhile, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is touting his proposal to replace Medicare and federally subsidized employer-sponsored coverage with tax credits for everyone to buy insurance on their own. The Hill’s Justin Sink has more here.
Failing patients: Hospitals across the country are doing a dismal job making sure their patients stay healthy after their discharge, according to a new report released Wednesday. Healthwatch’s Julian Pecquet has more.
Abortion coverage: Proposed regulations for state health insurance exchanges would allow taxpayer support for abortion coverage, Americans United for Life argues in a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"No matter how foolproof the segregation requirements, you can’t change the fact that the law goes against the status quo and subsidizes abortion coverage with tax dollars," argues AUL attorney Mary Harned. "In spite of repeated attempts by the Administration to persuade us otherwise, pro-life Americans know that the Affordable Care Act is not ‘fully consistent’ with other federal laws pertaining to abortion funding. Further, the new regulations proposed by HHS do not resolve one of the Act’s fundamental flaws — insurance plans eligible to receive federal funds are still permitted to cover abortions, in stark contrast to existing federal law, including the Hyde Amendment."
Mr. Medicare rights: The Medicare Rights Center has named its client services and program counsel, Doug Goggin-Callahan, as its new director of Education.
State by state
Arkansas Republicans don’t want the state to apply for federal funds to set up an insurance exchange.
Iowa just got a $3 million wellness grant under the healthcare reform law, but still wants it repealed.
New Hampshire is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit brought by 10 New Hampshire hospitals contesting steep cuts in Medicaid reimbursements.
A federal judge has dropped Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback from a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law that stripped federal funds from a Planned Parenthood chapter in the state.
Hill-Rom Co., one of the nation’s largest suppliers of durable medical equipment, will pay $41.8 million to settle charges it submitted false claims to Medicare.
A former pharmacy director at an Indian Health Service facility was sentenced for stealing pills that weren’t picked up by patients.
A Kentucky doctor agreed to pay $349,860 to settle allegations he double-billed Medicare for a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
The libertarian Cato Institute slams HHS’s new "Soviet-style power grab" of a media policy.
The conservative NewsBusters rips all three TV networks for reporting on the rise in insurance premiums without any mention of the role played by the healthcare reform law.
What you might have missed on Healthwatch
Spotlight back on healthcare law
Rep. Schwartz urges supercommittee to tackle "doc fix"
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