Supreme Court to Announce Decision to Consider PPACA Suits

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision this week on whether to consider the several lawsuits challenging the individual mandate, Medicaid and other provisions of the PPACA.  The Department of Justice has pleaded for consideration of the Eleventh Circuit’s decision declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional, but without striking down the Medicaid and other provisions of the statute that 26 “red” state plaintiffs have urged the court to consider.  If the court decides to take up one or more PPACA cases, oral arguments would likely be scheduled for early spring with a final decision rendered by the end of June next year.  In related news, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also ruled last week in favor of a DC District Court holding that Congress had the authority under the Commerce Clause to enact the individual mandate.

PPACA Partnership for Patients Provision Under Fire

At a Senate HELP Committee hearing last week, Senator Mark Kirk asked the CMS witness whether the agency would request a formal cost estimate from the CMS Office of the Actuary on the validity of the agency position that the PPACA Partnership for Patients provision would save $35 billion over three years.  The witness said the agency would be “willing to consult” with the CMS actuary, but not send a letter requesting a formal estimate.

Senate Passes Repeal of PPACA Provision

The House is expected to take up H.R. 674, legislation the Senate amended which would repeal the PPACA provision which requires federal, state, and local governments to withhold 3% from payments for goods and services to vendors.  The $11 billion cost of the repeal is paid for by also modifying the PPACA provision that defines income for determining eligibility for subsidies made available to participants under health insurance exchanges, Medicaid and the SCHIP program.  An amendment by Senator John Tester was adopted which provides tax incentives for hiring short-term and long-term unemployed veterans (with the cost offset by extending existing mortgage fees on loans available to veterans).

Medicare to Cover Prevention of Heart Disease, STIs

CMS announced that evidence is adequate to conclude that intensive behavioral therapy for cardiovascular disease is reasonable and necessary for the prevention or early detection of illness or disability.  CMS also said that Medicare will cover high-intensity behavioral counseling and screening for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis B when appropriate lab tests are ordered by a primary care physician.

IOM Calls for HIT Reporting

The Institute of Medicine released a report, Patient Safety and Health IT: Building Safer Systems for Better Care, which recommends that HHS establish a reporting system for technology vendors and users to report health-IT related deaths, injuries and unsafe conditions. The report said that reporting should be mandatory for vendors and voluntary, confidential and non-punitive for health care providers.  The IOM also recommended that HHS publish an action plan that includes a schedule for working with the private sector to assess the impact of health IT on patient safety and minimizing the risk of its implementation and use.

December 31, 1969: | Page 1 Page 2 Page 3



 -  2019

 +  2018