Health Care updates

Health Care updates

Supreme Court’s Healthcare Decision Expected Thursday.

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will announce the remainder of its decisions for the term on Thursday. The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Times, Subscription Publication) says the announcement makes it “very likely that a decision on the comprehensive law overhauling health care will come that day.” The Times notes, “The extension of the term by a few days from Monday, originally set as the final day, had been widely anticipated, as had the likelihood that the health care decision would be the last to be announced.”

Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Haberkorn) reports that Thursday will be the last day the High Court releases opinions, and rulings “are expected in two cases, plus the closely watched decision on President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. There will be no other opinions issued before then.” Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Stohr) and the National Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Fox, Subscription Publication) also report this story.

Decision Could Spark Lawsuits To Recover Funds Already Spent. The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Radnofsky, Subscription Publication) reports that if the Court strikes down all or part of the healthcare law, legal experts predict companies will file lawsuits in an effort to recover the money they spent trying to meet requirements of the law. For example, the government and the pharmaceutical industry have spent $3.7 billion to pay for senior citizens’ prescriptions as required by the law. Thomas Barker, the top lawyer for the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the George W. Bush administration, said that while companies may sue to recover the money, it is unlikely the Federal government would sue to recover the payments it has made and taxpayers and Congress have few options to force them.

Complete Strikedown Said To Cause “Policy Fires.” The National Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Sanger-Katz, McCarthy, Subscription Publication) reports, “Unlike partial revocations, which would give Congress time to fix potential glitches, a complete invalidation would start several policy fires that would require immediate congressional action. And members of Congress have not spent much time planning for this scenario.” The piece details what would happen to CMS and Medicare payments, the Indian Health Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Public Health and Prevention Fund.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Wasik) anticipates that two sectors, pharmaceuticals and Medicaid and Medicare managed care providers, will prosper no matter how the Supreme Court rules. The piece credits this prediction to the annual growth rate in healthcare spending, as well as demographics.

The Smart Money Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Fottrell) blog reports that experts predict that insurance premiums will continue to increase regardless of how the Supreme Court rules. The piece cites a spokeswoman for the National Association of Healthcare Underwriters who said costs and premiums will rise, although consumers, especially those who are young and healthy, will see increased costs under the Affordable Care Act. The Detroit Free Press Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Henderson), the Springfield (MO) News-Leader Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Okeson), the Houston Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Beeke, Subscription Publication), the Boston Business Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Donnelly, Subscription Publication), and the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Klein) “Wonkblog” also report on the upcoming ruling.

NAIC To Move Forward With ACA Implementation Policy Work. CQ Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Norman, Subscription Publication) reports, “The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is set to meet in Washington for two days this week and plow ahead on the policy work of implementing the health care law just before the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on the overhaul’s constitutionality.” Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin M. McCarty, NAIC president, said in a statement, “Our goal is to advance a number of policy matters through the committee process so there is adequate time for interested parties to weigh in and the full membership to review prior to the NAIC Summer National Meeting in August. While the future of the Affordable Care Act has yet to be determined, the NAIC remains committed to helping states deal with the implementation issues.”

Report: More Than 22 Million To Lose Out On Cheaper Health Insurance If ACA Overturned. The National Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, McCarthy, Subscription Publication) reports on an analysis from the consulting firm Avalere Health, which found that “more than 22 million people who would have gotten cheaper health insurance or coverage from Medicaid will be out of luck if the Supreme Court overturns the entire health care law.” According to the report, 55 percent of those people “live in 10 states: California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.”

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Baker) reports in its “Healthwatch” blog, “Avalere also mapped how many people would remain uninsured in each state, and the biggest impacts would be felt in several key battlegrounds.” Meanwhile, “The impact would likely be smaller if the court only strikes down part of the ACA.”

CMS: Medicare Beneficiaries Saved $3.7 Billion On Prescription Drugs Since ACA Passed. CNN Money Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Kavilanz) reports that on Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that “more than 5.2 million Medicare beneficiaries have saved a total of $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs since the health care reform law went into effect.” In a statement, CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner remarked, “The law is helping people with Medicare lower their medical costs, and giving them more resources to stay healthy.”

The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Viebeck) reports in its “Healthwatch” blog, “On Monday, CMS also released data showing that Medicare beneficiaries have gained an average of $651 in savings on prescription drugs because of healthcare reform this year. Tavenner’s statement added that the so-called ‘donut hole’ will be closed by 2020 thanks to the health law.” CQ Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Norman, Subscription Publication) also quotes Tavenner.

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Terhune) reports, “Nearly 70,000 Medicare patients in California saved $41 million on their prescription drugs during the first five months of this year under the federal healthcare law, new data show. … Overall, Californians with Medicare have saved $311 million on prescription drugs since the law was passed in 2010, according to federal data.”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26) reports, “The government says Indiana seniors and people with disabilities in the Medicare ‘doughnut hole’ coverage gap have saved $93.5 million on prescription drugs since 2010 under the federal health care overhaul.”

The Tulsa (OK) World Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Greene) reports, “In Oklahoma, some 56,526 beneficiaries received $30.3 million in discounts in 2011 and 10,595 beneficiaries have received $4.8 million in discounts so far this year.”

California Braces For Potential Consequences Of SCOTUS Decision. The Sacramento (CA) Bee Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/24, Kasler) reports that “if the court kills the individual mandate but preserves the rest of the law, California officials say they can salvage at least some elements of the plan.” One of the most important elements would be the billions in tax credits and subsidies for new insurance buyers. “Having a subsidy, having that financial glue … is enormously important,” said Kim Belshé, the state’s secretary of health and human services under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. According to Belshé, the state plans to implement the state-run insurance marketplace regardless of what happens to the Affordable Care Act, but that system “would work a whole lot better if the individual mandate were kept intact.”

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