De­ci­sion day on docket for ACA chal­lenges

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL REPORT -

Twenty months af­ter Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signs com­pre­hen­sive health­care re­form into law, the U.S. Supreme Court an­nounces it will hear chal­lenges to the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act and pos­si­bly de­cide the law’s fate.

The jus­tices set a court date in March 2012 for oral ar­gu­ments on whether Congress had con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­ity to pass the law. The sched­ule means that the court will pass judg­ment on chal­lenges to the ACA by the end of June—in the heat of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cy­cle.

The court agrees to con­sider sev­eral ques­tions on the law: whether the fed­eral man­date for in­di­vid­u­als to buy health in­sur­ance by 2014 is con­sti­tu­tional; whether the rest of the law could stand on its own with­out the man­date; and whether the court has ju­ris­dic­tion to con­sider ei­ther of those ques­tions be­fore 2014. The court also agrees to con­sider a fourth ques­tion, whether the law’s ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid amounts to il­le­gal co­er­cion of the states. Although the ACA faces le­gal chal­lenges in about three dozen fed­eral courts across the coun­try, the Supreme Court chooses to ac­cept all four ques­tions from one case: Florida v. Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, in which 26 states and state lead­ers are the plain­tiffs against the fed­eral govern­ment. It’s also the only case in which crit­ics of the law have won at the fed­eral ap­peals level.

Other high­lights:

The Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion main­tains an ag­gres­sive stance on hos­pi­tal merg­ers, chal­leng­ing three in 2011. The FTC wins a case in an ad­min­is­tra­tive court chal­leng­ing the ac­qui­si­tion of a hos­pi­tal in Maumee, Ohio, by Toledo’s Promed­ica, though an ap­peal is an­nounced hours af­ter the opinion. The agency also lost a case in ap­peals court chal­leng­ing an ac­qui­si­tion by Phoebe Put­ney Health Sys­tem in Al­bany, Ga., and opted to open a new chal­lenge of an ac­qui­si­tion in Rock­ford, Ill., by Peo­ria, Ill.-based OSF Health­care Sys­tem.

More than 100 hos­pi­tals con­fess to tech­ni­cal vi­o­la­tions of the Stark law against physi­cian self-re­fer­ral, us­ing a new dis­clo­sure tool in the ACA de­signed to re­duce penal­ties in ex­change for con­fes­sions, the self-re­fer­ral dis­clo­sure pro­to­col. Swamped CMS of­fi­cials an­nounce a to­tal of one set­tle­ment pub­licly dur­ing the year.

Of­fi­cials in the la­bor-heavy health­care world watch as the National La­bor Re­la­tions Board un­der Obama an­nounces plans to “mod­ern­ize” union-elec­tion laws. Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans re­volt, propos­ing laws to over­turn NLRB de­ci­sions and give all em­ploy­ers at least a month to pre­pare for union elec­tions. The board ap­proves a more lim­ited set of la­bor re­forms aimed at cut­ting off lengthy ap­peals in con­tested elec­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.