First Edition: June 19, 2012

Today's headlines include more speculation about the political implications of the Supreme Court's much-anticipated health law decision.

Kaiser Health News: GOP Promises Smaller-Scale Health Care Agenda If Court Strikes Down Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini reports: "If the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the health law, Republicans are poised to rub it in - through the November election - then roll out their own, smaller proposals" (Werber Serafini, 6/18). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: College Students Bridge Chasm Between Medical Care And Poverty
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, Sandra G. Boodman writes: "The brainchild of Rebecca Onie, who co-founded the nonprofit organization in 1996 as a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, Health Leads now operates in 23 urban clinics, emergency rooms and community health centers in Washington, Baltimore and four other cities. The goal of the program, which in 2009 earned Onie a MacArthur Fellowship and praise from first lady Michelle Obama, is both disarmingly simple and unquestionably ambitious: mobilizing highly motivated college students -- most bound for careers in medicine and related fields -- to help low-income families address their health problems by connecting them with basic services" (Boodman, 6/18). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: College Health Plans: Exploring The Options
Kaiser Health News staff writer Christian Torres, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "College students and their families will have better options for health insurance in the upcoming school year, but there will be higher costs, too" (Torres, 6/18). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Workplace Clinics Are Expanding Focus Beyond Injuries, Preventive Care
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "On-site workplace clinics used to be primarily focused on patching up people who got injured on the job. Then companies added primary care and started emphasizing preventive screenings and other 'wellness' services. Now, some big employers are beefing up their clinic offerings further with a host of add-ons, including physical therapy, dental and vision exams, mental health counseling and even acupuncture and massage" (Andrews, 6/18). Reach the column.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: AP Sources: Obama Administration Would Move Ahead On Parts Of Health Law Left Intact By Ruling
Covering all the bases ahead of a momentous Supreme Court ruling, the Obama administration plans to move ahead with major parts of the president's health care law if its most controversial provision does not survive, according to veteran Democrats closely involved with the legislation. Even if the requirement that nearly every U.S. resident have health insurance is declared unconstitutional, the remaining parts of the law would have far-reaching impact, putting coverage within reach of millions of uninsured people, laying new obligations on insurers and employers, and improving Medicare benefits even as payments to many service providers get scaled back (6/18).

The Wall Street Journal's Capital Journal: No Clear Script If Health Law Falls
Nothing has ever been simple in the great health-care debate, and there's no reason to think the coming Supreme Court decision on the topic, or the political repercussions from it, will be simple either. When the court rules sometime in the next two weeks, the waves it sets off will be tricky for both parties to navigate. A ruling striking down all or part of the law-;which is what conventional wisdom anticipates-;would be bad news for the Democrats who championed the legislation. What's less appreciated is that a negative ruling also would create new and distinct challenges for Republicans (Seib, 6/18).

Los Angeles Times: Trauma In The ER: Who Covers The Uninsured?
As happens daily in emergency rooms nationwide, the uninsured patient received medical care guaranteed by a generation-old federal mandate that requires hospitals to care for all in need, regardless of ability to pay. For 26 years, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA, has been a bedrock principle of American healthcare -; passed by a bipartisan Congress, signed by a Republican president and largely unchallenged since by hospitals and doctors (Levey, 6/18).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Parties Jockey On Healthcare Ahead Of U.S. Court Ruling
What might sound like music to some voters' ears is also part of the political dance that Republicans and Democrats have started as they await a landmark ruling on the 2010 healthcare reform from the Supreme Court within the next two weeks. In an election year, the political stakes are high on an issue which, many polls show, has divided the nation. How the court's decision is framed politically, whether by the Democrats and Obama or the Republicans and their presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, could sway wavering independent voters that each side probably needs to win the November 6 election (Morgan, 6/19).

Los Angeles Times: Anti-'Obamacare' Ad Campaigns Outspend Supporters 3-To-1
With anticipation building for the Supreme Court decision on President Obama's healthcare reform law, a survey has found that advertising purchases opposed to the law more than tripled those in support of it, $250 million to $76 million (Little, 6/18).

USA Today: Maine Candidate: Don't Assume Party Affiliation
The intrigue has put King in the national spotlight because Maine is a critical state for Democrats in their fight to maintain their majority. Democrats control the Senate 53-47, with two independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, aligning with them. The Democratic campaign operation has not endorsed the party's nominee, state Rep. Cynthia Dill, and has remained silent on King's campaign. King's record is a leading indicator that he would align with Democrats. For instance, he supports Obama's health care law and said he would have voted for it (Davis, 6/19).

The New York Times: 2 Legislators On Tough Turf Try Delicate Run Down The Middle
[Mr. Dold, a Republican freshman] is one of a handful of Republican lawmakers who refer to the health care law by its given name -; the Affordable Care Act -; rather than by the pejorative name Obamacare, and he uses the word "independent" rather than "Republican" to describe his politics on the campaign trail. "I believe what people are looking for is for us to work together," he says. … Mr. Matheson has a similar tack, saying that Ms. Love is more in step with House Republicans than with independent-minded Utah voters. "She wants to eliminate Social Security and get rid of Medicaid," he said. "Those are positions that are just out there" (Steinhauer, 6/18).

The New York Times: Lobbying Effort Is Said To Sink New Controls On Painkillers
Efforts to impose stricter controls on prescription drugs that are subject to rampant abuse have apparently failed after a groundswell of lobbying by pharmacists and drugstores, members of Congress said on Monday (Pear, 6/18).

The Wall Street Journal: No Overtime For Drug Reps
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that drug companies don't have to pay their sales representatives for working overtime hours, a significant win for the pharmaceutical industry. The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, ruled that drug sales reps fall under a provision of federal labor law that removes overtime-pay requirements for those employed as outside salespeople (Kendall, 6/18).

Politico: US Supreme Court: No OT For Pharmaceutical Reps
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that pharmaceutical sales representatives are not subject to the overtime pay specified in the Fair Labor Standards Act. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. that pharmaceutical representatives' employers aren't obligated to pay time-and-a-half wages if the sales reps work more than 40 hours a week (Smith, 6/18).

The New York Times: Fast Access To Records Helps Fight Epidemics
Public health departments around the country have long scrutinized data from local hospitals for indications that diseases like influenza, tuberculosis, AIDS, syphilis and asthma might be on the rise, and to monitor the health consequences of heat waves, frigid weather or other natural phenomena. In the years since 9/11, this scrutiny has come to include signs of possible bioterrorism (Freudenheim, 6/18).

The Wall Street Journal's Metropolis: After Deal On Disabled, A Noisy Critic Remains
As political leaders hailed a deal Monday to overhaul state protections for the mentally and physically disabled, Michael Carey stalked the halls of the Capitol here with an unrelenting message: The legislation wouldn't stop abuse (Mann, 6/18).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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