A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Legal Challenges"

Arizona Medicaid appeal to be heard by court

Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic
Thu, 2014-08-28
"PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gov. Jan Brewer's appeal of an appeals-court decision that could unravel the Medicaid expansion she fought for last year. The high court has not yet set a date, but indicated it will hear Brewer's argument that about three dozen Republican lawmakers don't have the legal standing to challenge the controversial vote. The court's decision, reached in a scheduling conference, comes on the heels of Tuesday's primary election in which every Republican lawmaker who voted to expand the state's Medicaid program won re-election. That means it would be highly unlikely the next Legislature would vote to reverse the 2013 decision, which was a consistent fault line in numerous GOP legislative primaries. The case revolves around whether the Legislature's 2013 vote to impose an assessment on hospitals to help cover the cost of expanding the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment program was a tax.

Pharma tells the Federal Government: Transparency Works Both Ways

Peter Loftus
Wall Street Journal
Wed, 2014-08-27
"File this under ‘how ironic.’ Drug makers are asking for more transparency from the government agency that is requiring them to be more transparent about how much they pay doctors. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, is calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to further explain why the agency has removed one-third of the payment information from an online database that is due to be made public by Sept. 30. Earlier this month, CMS said it would withhold about one-third of the payment data from the so-called “Open Payments” system. The agency also said it would return the records to drug makers because they were “intermingled,” including the erroneous linking of payment information for some doctors to still other doctors with similar names.

This Movie Star’s Planned Parenthood T-Shirt Proves She Doesn’t Understand Hobby Lobby Decision

Katrina Trinko
The Daily Signal
Wed, 2014-08-27
"Planned Parenthood Action Fund released today a t-shirt designed by actress Scarlett Johansson that targets the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The front of the pink t-shirt reads “Hey Politicians! The 1950s called…” and the back reads, “They want their sexism back!” “When I heard that some politicians were cheering the Supreme Court’s decision to give bosses the right to interfere in our access to birth control, I thought I had woken up in another decade,” explained Johansson in a statement. “Like many of my friends, I was appalled by the thought of men taking away women’s ability to make our own personal health care decisions,” she added. Um … what? Let’s look at some facts, beginning with that the Hobby Lobby decision was fairly narrow.

Court filings show Oracle America stymied Oregon DOJ demand for documents

Tue, 2014-08-26
"The Oregon Department of Justice jousted for nearly two months with Oracle America over the state's demand for documents from the California software giant relating to the health exchange debacle. In fact, Oracle flouted state law and stymied the demand, according to DOJ. The state filed papers in federal court Friday that provide a glimpse into high-stakes jockeying that for months took place largely out of public view. DOJ filed its federal papers shortly after the state's lawyers sued Oracle in Marion County Circuit Court on Aug. 22. In its federal filing, DOJ accuses Oracle of "stalling" and attempting to manipulate the legal system by filing its own federal lawsuit against Oregon on Aug. 8."

New Birth Control Rules Appear To Track Supreme Court Suggestion

Julie Rovner
Kaiser Health News
Tue, 2014-08-26
"Those who favor women being guaranteed no-cost birth control coverage under their health insurance say the new rules for nonprofit religious organizations issued by the Obama administration simply put into force what the Supreme Court suggested last month. A demonstrator holding up a sign outside the Supreme Court in Washington in June 2014. The Obama administration announced new measures last week to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception. (Photo by Pablo Martinez Mosivais/AP) “We interpret what [the administration] did to be putting into effect that order,” said Judy Waxman, vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center.

Top Health Stories of the Summer

Jonathan Easley
Morning Consult
Mon, 2014-08-25
"From Halbig to Sovaldi, this summer was a busy one for health policy and politics. We’ve made it easy to catch up, collecting all of the top stories you clicked on over the past few months. Together, they tell a story about the state of healthcare in the U.S., and offer clues as to where things may be headed when Congress returns in the fall. Among them: The political battle over Obmacare has become more complicated for Republicans since the government cleaned up the Healthcare.gov mess, and with midterm elections around the corner, the focus will be on how much either party continues to attack or ignore the law. There are policy, legal and business matters to be settled as well – the employer mandate is under attack from the left and the right, the courts have been a wildcard for the health law to this point and could continue to be so, and employers and employees are finding themselves wading through the on-the-ground impacts of the law.

California: Insurers must cover elective abortions

The Associated Press
Mon, 2014-08-25
"Health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials have ruled in a reversal of policy stemming from the decision by two Catholic universities to drop elective abortions from their employee health plans. Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, the director of California's Department of Managed Health Care said in a letter to seven insurance companies on Friday that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all "medically necessary" care. "Abortion is a basic health care service," department director Michelle Rouillard wrote in the letter.

Some Insurers Refuse To Cover Contraceptives, Despite Health Law Requirement

Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News
Sat, 2014-08-23
"How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they’ll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut? Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn’t stopped some from trying. Kaiser Health News readers still write in regularly about this. In one of those messages recently, a woman said her insurer denied free coverage for the NuvaRing. This small plastic device, which is inserted into the vagina, works for three weeks at a time by releasing hormones similar to those used by birth control pills. She said her insurer told her she would be responsible for her contraceptive expenses unless she chooses an oral generic birth control pill.

BREAKING: Feds unveil new birth control mandate

Benjamin Goad, The Hill
Fri, 2014-08-22
"The Obama administration is moving forward with regulations meant to enable certain businesses and charities to steer clear of the Affordable Care Act’s so-called birth control mandate, while ensuring free contraception coverage for women under the law. The action amounts to an administrative workaround in response to a slew of legal challenges from groups citing religious objections to portions of the mandate. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held religious companies cannot be compelled to offer their employees certain forms of birth control. Under the proposal, the government would step in and cover the law’s contraception requirements in instances where employers announce their religious objections in writing. The organizations would not have to play any direct role in providing for contraceptive coverage to which they object, according to a final interim rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid."

The law clearly states it — words mean what they say

Grace-Marie Turner
Galen Institute
Thu, 2014-08-21
"The Affordable Care Act gives the president’s cabinet officers sweeping powers to implement the law, but the administration managed to overreach these powers by allowing people in 36 states to illegally access health insurance subsidies. That was the conclusion of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in July. At issue is the ability of people who sign up for coverage through exchanges established by the federal government to receive credits to reduce the cost of their health insurance. D.C. Appeals Court Judge Raymond Randolph said the statute was quite clear in repeating seven times that subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State.” When the health law was passed, its authors apparently believed they had sufficiently cajoled the states.

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