KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: December 20, 2010

Today's headlines include more analysis on the continuing legal challenges to the health law and the path they might take to the Supreme Court.

Kaiser Health News Analysis: The Long Road to A Supreme Court Decision On Health Law's Mandate
In an analysis for Kaiser Health News, Stuart Taylor writes: "The HCLSC – health care litigation spin cycle – is in overdrive now that a Reagan-appointed federal judge has strongly signaled in court that he is very likely to follow a George W. Bush appointee who struck down the individual mandate at the heart of the new health care law" (Taylor, 12/19).

Kaiser Health News: Checking In With Dr. Robert Kocher On Who Might Stay Uninsured In Spite Of The Individual Mandate
Kaiser Health News staff writer Amita Parashar reports: "One of the most contentious aspects of the new health care law has been the 'individual mandate,' a requirement that nearly everyone have health insurance by 2014. On Tuesday, a federal district judge in Virginia ruled that this section of the law is unconstitutional, further fueling the debate over whether the federal government can require people to be insured. But even if the mandate takes effect in three years, experts acknowledge that some people are certain to still be without coverage" (Parashar, 12/20).

KHN's Health On The Hill: Health Law Repeal Efforts To Gain Steam, Others Stand Against It
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey and Marilyn Werber Serafini talk with KFF's Jackie Judd about health reform repeal efforts (12/17). Watch the video.

KHN Column: A Bipartisan Budget Will Require Bipartisan Health Care
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, James Capretta writes: "The November election has certainly shaken things up in Washington, even before most of the newly elected members to the House and Senate arrive in town and take their seats in Congress. That's because all parties have begun recalibrating their positions in anticipation of the shifting balance of power that is coming in January" (Capretta, 12/20).

The New York Times: The Supreme Court And Obama's Health Care Law
When it comes to the future of the Obama administration's health care plan, the judicial math can seem simple. So far in three lawsuits against the plan, two federal judges appointed by Democrats have upheld the law; one Republican-appointed judge has declared an important part of it unconstitutional. Use party as your measure, send the cases up the appeals ladder, and you quickly get to a 5-4 decision at the Supreme Court: the justices appointed by Republican presidents will vote to strike down the law (Schwartz, 12/18).

The New York Times: Proposed Amendment Would Enable States To Repeal Federal Law
The same people driving the lawsuits that seek to dismantle the Obama administration's health care overhaul have set their sights on an even bigger target: a constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the states to overturn any act of Congress (Zernike, 12/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Budget Brawl Looms In Congress
Even as President Barack Obama signed a broad, bipartisan tax law, battle lines were being drawn over spending cuts and Mr. Obama's health-care law, setting up the likely first big fights in the new Congress (Bendavid and Weisman, 12/18).

The Wall Street Journal: To Spine Surgeons Reap Royalties, Medicare Bounty
Norton Hospital in Louisville, Ky., may not be a household name nationally. But five senior spine surgeons have helped put it on the map in at least one category: From 2004 to 2008, Norton performed the third-most spinal fusions on Medicare patients in the country (Carreyrou and McGinty, 12/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Studies Cited For Transplant Cuts Put Under The Knife
Cash-strapped Arizona has drawn national scrutiny for its decision to drop Medicaid coverage for some organ transplants as the state tries to plug a $1 billion gap in its health-care budget for next year (Bialik, 12/18).

NPR: Czech Doctors Prepare To Abandon The Republic
Fed up with shockingly low pay and long hours, doctors in the Czech Republic are threatening to leave the country en masse (Westervelt, 12/19).

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