First Edition: June 21, 2012

Today's headlines reflect a number of the issues in play as the waiting game continues regarding the Supreme Court's health law decision. 

Kaiser Health News: Awaiting The Court Ruling, A Consumer Guide To Health Reform Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey reports: "The Supreme Court is expected to rule within a week on some key constitutional challenges brought by states against the 2010 health care overhaul law. The decision will have sweeping ramifications for consumers, state officials, employers and health care providers, including hospitals and doctors" (Carey, 6/20). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Court Challenge Could Result In Medicaid Cutbacks Instead Of Expansion
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "The future of the nation's largest health insurance program -- Medicaid -- hangs in the balance of the Supreme Court's decision on the 2010 health law. The state-federal program which covers 60 million poor and disabled people would be greatly expanded under the health law, adding 17 million more people starting in 2014" (Galewitz, 6/20). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Political Jockeying In Anticipation Of Supreme Court Ruling
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Marilyn Werber Serafini talk to Jackie Judd about how each party is positioning itself ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on the health law. Carey says much is at stake while Werber Serafini outlines some of the Republican alternatives to the law (6/20). Watch the video or read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: While Awaiting Court's Decision, HHS Awards Health Center Grants
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Matthew Fleming writes: "Even as attention is focused on the much-anticipated Supreme Court decision regarding the health law's constitutionality, the Obama administration continues to roll out 'good news' announcements related to provisions that have already taken effect. Case in point: The Obama administration Wednesday announced $128.6 million in new grants designed to help community health centers across the country and in some U.S. territories expand their ability to treat patients" (Fleming, 6/20). Check out what else is on the blog.

Politico: Health Lobby To Parse Words After Decision
When the Supreme Court hands down its ruling on the health care law, it's game on for K Street. Lawyers and lobbyists are preparing their rapid-response plans to dissect the decision and tell clients what it means. But no matter how quickly people figure out what the court said, don't expect corporate America to come out spiking the football (Palmer, 6/20).

Politico: Neera Tanden: Health Care Ruling Won't Be The End
A ruling against the health law would energize Democratic voters in the 2012 election, says one prominent backer. And a ruling in favor of it — even if that means at least one Republican-appointed justice upholds it — won't make its critics suddenly find it politically palatable, said one of the law's leading foes (Haberkorn, 6/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: The Possible Impact On Small Businesses After The Supreme Court Rules On Health Care
Small business owners will be watching when the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The overhaul of the nation's health care system requires that by 2014, all businesses with more than 50 employees must provide health care benefits that are deemed affordable under the law (6/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Not Just Insurance Is At Stake
It isn't just large employers, medical businesses and constitutional scholars who are invested in the court's decision. Chain restaurants, tanning salons, breast-feeding advocacy groups and others far afield of health care have a lot riding on whether the law stays in place (Adamy, 6/20).

Politico: Mike Lee: If Health Care Stands, Anything Goes
Sen. Mike Lee says that if the Supreme Court upholds the Affordable Care Act, Congress's power would effectively be limitless (Cheney, 6/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Tax Credit Eludes Some
Hundreds of thousands of small businesses are excluded from claiming a health-care tax credit, and many blame overly narrow restrictions. "You're penalized for giving people a higher wage and a more professional opportunity," said Michael Griffin, whose St. Louis ad agency offers health-insurance coverage to its six full-time employees (Maltby, 6/20).

The Washington Post: Health Insurance Plans Owe $1.1 Billion In Rebates
Millions of consumers and businesses will receive $1.1 billion in rebates this summer from health insurance plans that failed to meet a requirement of the new health-care law, according to the Health and Human Services Department (Kliff, 6/20).

Los Angeles Times: Not All Republicans Embrace GOP Budget, Medicare Changes
As both Democrats and Republicans try to make the November election a choice over competing economic visions for the country, not all congressional Republicans are fans of the GOP budget approach as crafted by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and embraced by the party’s presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney (Mascaro, 6/20).

The New York Times: Distaste For Health Care Law Reflects Spending On Ads
Losse is precisely the kind of person President Obama’s signature health care law is intended to help. She has no health insurance. She relies on her mother to buy her a yearly checkup as a Christmas gift, and she pays out of her own pocket for the rest of her medical care, including $1,250 for a recent ultrasound (Goodnough, 6/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Conservative Women's Group Launches $6 Million Ad Campaign Criticizing Health Care Law
A conservative women’s group on Wednesday launched a $6 million ad campaign in presidential battleground states criticizing President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. The 60-second ad from Concerned Women for America features a family physician, Ami Siems, warning that patients may be denied care under the new law and might not be able to choose their own doctor (6/20).

USA Today: Catholic Bishops Press Cause Against Federal Mandates
The campaign kicks off Thursday. Government, they say, should not decide who is religious enough to be exempt from government mandates — particularly a requirement to provide free contraception insurance coverage — that would force the faithful to violate church doctrine (Grossman, 6/21).

Politico: House Extends FDA User Fees
The House easily passed a bill reauthorizing the FDA's user fees Wednesday, sending it to the Senate for final approval. The measure passed by voice vote. The exact timing for Senate action on the bill is not yet clear, but that chamber is expected to take it up next week and send it to President Barack Obama (Norman, 6/20).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Analysis: Hospitals Find A Few Defenders On Wall Street
Such construction plans are just one example of how publicly traded U.S. hospital chains are preparing for a new era in healthcare. In many cases, operators like Community Health and Health Management Associates Inc are becoming turnaround strategists, taking over struggling nonprofit community hospitals for bargain prices and investing in new technology for the promise of a new revenue stream (6/21).

The Wall Street Journal: J& J Close To Settling Off-Label Probes
Johnson & Johnson and the Justice Department are close to settling a protracted investigation into the company's promotion of the antipsychotic Risperdal, for what would be one of the highest sums to date in a drug-marketing case, according to people familiar with the matter. The sides are trying to wrap together a number of lawsuits, state investigations and other probes of alleged illegal marketing, and are discussing a payment of at least $1.5 billion, some of the people said (Rockoff and Lublin, 6/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Cuba Defends Its Banks After US Prosecutors Say Medicare Fraud Money Sent To Island Accounts
A Cuban official said Wednesday that the country has strict controls to avoid money laundering and works closely with banks to detect and deter fraudulent transactions, responding to allegations by U.S. prosecutors that millions of dollars defrauded from Medicare were routed to the island’s financial system (6/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Florida Gov. Scott Says His State Will Carry Out Obama's Health Law If Supreme Court Upholds
Florida's Republican governor — one of the staunchest opponents of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul — says his state will carry out the law if the Supreme Court upholds it. Gov. Rick Scott told reporters Wednesday "if it is the law of the land, then we are going to comply." The highly anticipated ruling is expected before the end of next week (6/20).

The New York Times: Albany Bill On Organ Donation Urges License Applicants To Act
The New York State Legislature passed a measure on Wednesday aimed at increasing the low number of organ donors in the state by encouraging driver's license applicants to make an active choice about their donation status. If the bill is signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York will become the second state, along with California, to make such a change in its donor registration process (Sack, 6/20).

The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: 11 Illinois Health Centers Win $6.5 Million In Federal Awards To Expand Care To More Patients
Eleven health centers in Illinois have been awarded grants under the Affordable Care Act to expand care. The Illinois grants announced Wednesday total nearly $6.5 million. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (seh-BEEL'-yuhs) announced more than $128 million in awards to health centers in 41 states (6/20).

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