Health Reform Law Update: State Lawsuits, Implementation Efforts Attract Attention

The Associated Press: Today, 20 states and the National Federation of Independent Business are planning "to file their response to the government's attempt to dismiss their lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The Justice Department in June asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the U.S. District Court in Pensacola lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over some of the lawsuit's claims. ... A key issue raised by their lawsuit is whether the federal government can require individuals to purchase health care insurance and fine those who don't" (Kay, 8/6).

The Hill: "State governments are implementing the controversial healthcare law, even in places where elected officials are challenging its constitutionality." In many locations, state employees are defining rules for the health insurance industry and "applying for a wide variety of federal grants offered under the law." States "are implementing a law their governors and other elected officials oppose [because] some cash-strapped states are taking the opportunity to grab federal funds. Many governments are taking a cautious approach in making sure they comply with the new federal law — at least until the courts tell them they don't have to. But the most important reason ... is to exert control over the biggest overhaul of healthcare policy since Medicare" (Pecquet, 8/6).

Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times reports that as Americans "struggle with double-digit hikes in their health insurance bills, millions are coming up against a hard reality: the state regulators who are supposed to protect them can often do little to control what insurers are charging. In many states, it is the insurance industry that largely control the regulatory process, funneling money to key state lawmakers and squelching efforts to expand government oversight of premiums, a review of state regulations and campaign donations shows. … And although the Obama administration's healthcare overhaul is designed to ultimately change that, many consumer advocates fear the new law may not break insurers' stranglehold on state capitals soon enough" (Levey, 8/5).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.