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Will Obamacare Case Go Straight To SCOTUS? - Health Care Edge

Health Care Edge - August 19, 2014

By Sam Baker

HOW HALBIG ADVANCES: The conservative activists challenging Obamacare's insurance subsidies urged a federal appeals court yesterday to kick the issue directly to the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs in Halbig v. Burwell, the high-stakes lawsuit that would block financial assistance in more than half the country, said the case's "great national importance" means it should go directly to the high court, bypassing an appeal in a federal appeals court.

 

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STICKING TO THE STRATEGY: The Halbig plaintiffs filed their brief yesterday urging the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals not to re-hear the Halbig case --a hearing the Justice Department requested. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled in the challengers' favor last month, and the challengers want to keep that decision intact. There's a risk they might lose if, as the Justice Department wants, the full D.C. Circuit re-hears the case. And if that happens, the Supreme Court might be less inclined to take up the issue.

TRIBAL COVERAGE: The federal government provides funding every year that gives free health care to Native American and Alaska Native tribes. But the funding to the tribes isn't enough to cover everything. That has tribal officials in a tough spot. Many of them are urging their members to purchase insurance, so they'll have access to a wider range of important services -- but that's a hard sell for people who already get health care benefits for free. (Whitney Shefte, The Washington Post)

OBAMACARE ATTRITION: Some insurers expect as many as 30 percent of their Obamacare customers to drop their coverage, but the government hasn't provided a formal count of how many people are cycling out of the system. Some attrition was expected -- as people find jobs, for example, they're likely to get health care there. But we don't know how many people are covered until we know how many have cycled in and out of the system since the end of the open enrollment period. (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View)

 

MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENTS RISING: A new study finds preliminary hints that Obamacare may be helping more young people seek treatment for mental-health issues. In the two years after the law began allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health care plans, researchers found a slight increase -- about 2 percent -- in the number of young people who said they were being treated for their mental illnesses. (Maanvi Singh, NPR News/Kaiser Health News)

HIGH MARKS FOR COVERED CALIFORNIA: Sixty percent of Californians say they approve of the way the state rolled out its exchange, Covered California, and support for the Affordable Care Act itself hit a record high in the state -- 56 percent. (Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle)

MORE INFO ON 2015 PREMIUMS: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield will keep rates about flat, on average, for plans sold through Connecticut's insurance exchange. Anthem initially filed for an average increase of more than 12 percent, which state regulators rejected -- and now the insurer is looking at an average 0.1 percent decrease across all its plans. Anthem's catastrophic plan will cut its rates by 15 percent, while more generous plans will receive premium hikes of up to 4.6 percent. (Arielle Levin Becker, CT Mirror)

TOO MANY TESTS: Seniors are getting too many unnecessary cancer tests, according to new research in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers said elderly patients with short life expectancies are getting tested for cancers that would take longer to develop, often subjecting themselves to treatments that hurt their quality of life but don't help them live any longer. (Julia Belluz, Vox)

 

Health IT

HOSPITALS HACKED: Hackers made off with 4.5 million patients' personal information -- including names and Social Security numbers -- after breaking into the computer systems at a nationwide hospital chain. Community Health Systems, which operates more than 200 hospital facilities, said the breach affects anyone who was referred to a doctor within its network. (Jose Pagliery, CNN Money)

WHAT NET NEUTRALITY MEANS FOR HEALTH CARE: Electronic medical records may not be as big as Netflix, but they're still a big and important piece of the debate over "net neutrality." Some experts in the field worry that an Internet "fast lane" could be a setback for the wider adoption of electronic records, particularly in rural areas, if telecom providers give a leg up to certain health IT vendors. (Mark Gaynor, Leslie Lenert, Kristin Wilson and Scott Bradner, Health Affairs)

Transparency

PARTLY SUNSHINE:Obamacare mandated the creation of a new database tracking payments that pharmaceutical and medical-device companies make to doctors. But about a third of the data won't be released when the database goes live next month, because of inconsistencies in those reports. (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica)

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Great news in short form along with much needed humor."

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Informative and help[s] me stay on track. "

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LAB MISHAPS KEPT SECRET: Did a laboratory in your area accidentally infect animals -- or employees -- with dangerous viruses? Good luck finding out. More than 1,000 potentially dangerous lab "incidents" were reported over the past four years, but the names of the labs, their locations and many details of what happened are kept secret. (Alison Young, USA Today)

Abortion

MOST OPPOSE ABORTION LIMITS: More than two-thirds of voters oppose new restrictions on abortion access, according to a poll from NARAL Pro-Choice America. (Ferdous Al-Faruque, The Hill)

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Health Care Edge is one of my top resources."

Meghan, Associate Specialist

Great news in short form along with much needed humor."

Patrick, President of private healthcare consulting firm

Informative and help[s] me stay on track. "

Director of Scientific Affairs, Non-profit medicial society

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