Obama Administration: Mandate Is Respectful Of Individual Rights

The Department of Justice argues that the individual mandate is more protective of individual choices than programs such as Medicare. In other news related to the health law, the clashes between consumer and business groups over the measure's required benefit summaries don't appear to be over.  

Politico Pro: DOJ: Mandate Approach 'Protective' Of Choice
The Obama administration on Wednesday defended the health care reform law's individual mandate as more respectful of individual rights than a program such as Medicare, which operates essentially as government-run health care. Opponents of the health care reform law — which will go before the Supreme Court later this month — argue that the government has never before tried to require Americans to purchase something, in this case health insurance (Haberkorn, 3/7).

Politico Pro: Fight Over Insurance Summaries Persists
The clash between businesses and consumer groups over when health plans must start providing beneficiaries with simplified benefit summaries shows no sign of winding down. The Obama administration released a final rule last month detailing the simplified benefit summaries that health plans must provide to consumers. But business groups want to push it back for another year, while consumer advocates are fighting back to keep the consumer protection provision on track for implementation in September (Millman, 3/7).

Fox News: Health Care Law To Treat Unequal Access In 2012
The Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ, has been tracking disparities annually since 2003. Dr. Ernest Moy, a medical officer at the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety within the AHRQ, says that while overall health care quality in the U.S. has been improving by roughly 2.5% per year, disparities have refused to budge. ... Beginning in March 2012, the Affordable Care Act will target disparities by requiring all new and existing federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, to collect and report racial, ethnic and language information on all applicants, recipients and participants (MacDonald, 3/7).

California Healthline: Health Care Reform Driving Physicians Together
When the American Hospital Association recently reported that the number of physicians employed by hospitals rose 34% between 2000 and 2010, it was interesting but not exactly earth-shattering news. ... the total number of hospital-employed physicians -- AHA placed it at about 25% of active physicians -- still doesn't seem that enormous. But numbers like these, which measure across a long period and consider only the employment relationship, don't necessarily show the true extent of changes under way in the physician marketplace. ... the physician marketplace is shifting rapidly toward an environment more dominated by large health care provider networks (O'Hara, 3/7).

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