KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Supreme Court’s Decision On Health Law Likely To Affect 2012 Election

News outlets examined what is likely to be the high court's biggest case of the new term, which begins Monday.

The Associated Press: Health Care Law Looms Over New Supreme Court Term 
The Obama administration's request last week that the justices resolve whether the health care law is constitutional makes it more likely than not that they will deliver their verdict by June 2012, just as Obama and his Republican opponent charge toward the fall campaign.  ... Their decision could rank as the court's most significant since the December 2000 ruling that effectively sealed George W. Bush's election as president (Sherman, 10/1).

CNN: Health Care, Other Hot Issues Promise A Landmark High Court Term
Few doubt the nine-member bench will take on as many as three separate appeals over health care. The only question is precisely when. "The Supreme Court term so far is shaping up to be pretty interesting, but it could become absolutely explosive and enthralling, the most interesting one in a century," said Thomas Goldstein, a prominent appellate attorney and founder of Scotusblog.com (Mears, 9/30).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Cuccinelli Appeals Health-Care Suit To U.S. Supreme Court
As expected, Virginia is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling dismissing its challenge to President Barack Obama's landmark health-care legislation. Last month, the Richmond-based court ruled that Virginia lacked the legal standing to pursue its case. The commonwealth's filing asks the high court to not only address the issue of standing, but also to hear its case based on the merits (Nolan, 10/1).

Reuters: Virginia To Take Healthcare Suit To Supreme Court
"Given the importance of the issue, we believe that multiple petitions should be granted to guarantee that the Supreme Court has a case in which it can reach all the key constitutional questions," Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. ... Within hours of Obama signing the law in 2010, Virginia sued saying the mandate that every citizen buy health insurance or pay a fine was unconstitutional. Virginia has also raised questions as to whether the federal law can trump a state one allowing residents to forego health insurance (9/30).

CBS News: Democrats Ask For Investigation Into Clarence Thomas 
In a letter to the arm of the court system responsible for overseeing judicial practices, [20 House Democrats] called into question Thomas' impartiality toward President Obama's health care overhaul ... The letter specifically charges Thomas failed to report nearly $700,000 of income earned by his wife, Virginia Thomas, for her work for the conservative Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007. ... Thomas isn't the only judge who's impartiality on health care reform has been called into question. Last year, during Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings, Republicans said they were concerned about her bias, since she served as the White House's solicitor general when the reforms were crafted (Condon, 9/30).

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Term Will Include Cases Highlighting Extent Of Federal Power
Liberal groups and some Democratic members of Congress are seeking investigations into Justice Clarence Thomas’s failure to list on financial-disclosure statements that his wife, Virginia Thomas, was employed in the past by conservative organizations opposed to the health-care law. Her work was common knowledge at the time, and he has since corrected the forms. Conservative groups question how involved Justice Elena Kagan was in forming the Obama administration’s legal defense of the health-care law when she was solicitor general, the government's chief appellate lawyer. Kagan said during her confirmation hearings she did not play an active role (Barnes, 10/1).

Related, from KHN: Scoreboard: Tracking Health Law Court Challenges

Meanwhile, the court will begin hearing arguments Monday with a Medicaid case out of California.

McClatchy Newspaper: Supreme Court About To Start Most Interesting Term In Years
California health-care conflicts will kick off a Supreme Court term that will, in time, turn toward the truly dramatic. States and doctors have multi-billion-dollar stakes in the California case that starts the new term Monday. They're weighing in, on competing sides. And just over the horizon is the lumbering giant: all-but-certain Supreme Court review of the Obama administration's health care law right in the middle of an election year (Doyle, 10/2).

The Hill: Supreme Court To Hear Case On Medicaid Rates
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in a healthcare case that pits states against the federal government — and Democrats against Democrats. At issue is whether patients and healthcare providers can sue to block states from cutting their Medicaid rates. The suit was filed after California proposed a series of Medicaid cuts, some as high as 10 percent (Baker, 10/2).

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