Deadline Looms For DOJ Appeal Of Healthcare Ruling

Politico (9/23, Haberkorn, 25K) reports, “The Obama administration has to decide by Monday whether it wants to directly ask the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of its signature health reform legislation.” Since a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals “ruled against the health law in August, the administration can either ask the full court to take another look at the case or ask the Supreme Court to review it and issue a final decision.” Politico notes that the Justice Department “has until Monday to file paperwork if it wants to go back to the full circuit court,” and if the department does not file or get an extension, it has no other option than to ask the Supreme Court to rule on the 11th Circuit’s decision.

Industry Seeks Savings from Medicare Beneficiaries

Members of the Healthcare Leadership Council—which includes top executives from Pfizer Inc., Aetna Inc. and the Mayo Clinic-are expected to approve a proposal that would call for raising Medicare’s eligibility age and shifting the program toward private plans for beneficiaries.  The group plans to press members of the congressional “supercommittee,” charged with finding $1.2 trillion in budget savings, to include the changes in its broader cost-cutting plan.

The council’s proposal is part of a larger effort inside the health industry to overhaul how lawmakers achieve savings from federal health programs. For years, Congress largely has relied on slicing payments to doctors and hospitals that treat Medicare beneficiaries to shrink spending in the program that insures 48 million elderly and disabled Americans.

Frustrated at being the target, the health industry is pushing back, arguing that some of those savings should come directly from the pockets of Medicare beneficiaries.

“This thinking that we’re protecting beneficiaries because we’re only cutting providers—that’s mythical,” said Mary Grealy, the council’s president. “At some point it does affect beneficiaries,” she said, because such cuts weaken health-care providers’ ability to offer services.

There’s growing pressure in Washington to rein in the major health-care entitlement programs—Medicare and Medicaid—as lawmakers struggle to cut the federal budget deficit.

Adamy, Janet,

Industry Seeks Savings from Medicare beneficiaries, The Wall Street Journal – Print and Online September 13, 2011