HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: The Big Obamacare Challenges Are Over

The path to a full-scale constitutional challenge to Obamacare is more or less closed, but smaller attacks on the law are still expected after the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling yesterday to uphold it.

“There won’t be a big omnibus challenge to the entire law, but there will always be ongoing litigation regarding the administration and enforcement of the law, and that will last for some time,” said Jonathan Adler, law professor at Case. Western Reserve University Law School.

In a move that surprised most court observers, the Supreme Court on procedural grounds resolved the latest attack on the Affordable Care Act. The court ruled that the Republican-controlled states and two people who filed a lawsuit could not prove that they had been injured by the provision in the law that requires everyone to carry insurance because it is not enforceable.

The ruling means some 20 million people can keep their health insurance, and legal experts say it is the last chance for a constitutional challenge to President Barack Obama’s signing law.

President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra want to use ACA as a base vehicle to insure more people, whether through expanding the Medicaid program for low-income people or through l ‘Encouraging more people to sign up for Obamacare with cash support.

“We can do all of these things now because we now know that we are working from a platform that is not only legal, but has survived three legal tests,” Becerra told attendees of the healthcare industry on a call yesterday.

Adler said that means there is room for further litigation, but he will likely focus on how the administration uses the law to propel its goals. “Like any great regulatory law, it has tons of provisions, tons of moving parts, there are tons of things in the law that can create conflicts and legal issues, and those provisions will be the subject of litigation.” , did he declare. Read more from Lydia Wheeler.

Related: Supreme Court Dismisses GOP Challenge Against Obamacare

The decision leaves the parties looking for locations for 2022: The end of the latest legal challenge against Obamacare also weakens a message that united Democratic campaigns in the last election. “It seems to me that the ACA has run out of steam as a major animation problem,” said Kyle Kondik, editor-in-chief of Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Democrats had used Republicans’ unsuccessful efforts to overthrow the ACA to help them take control of both houses of Congress in 2020. Read more about Alex Ruoff.

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Happens on the Hill

Manchin denounces the FDA on the approval of an Alzheimer’s disease drug: Senator Joe manchin (W.Va.), a moderate Democrat seen as a crucial vote in the party’s slim Senate majority, said Janet Woodcock, acting head of the Food and Drug Administration, should be quickly replaced by a permanent leader . Manchin lambasted an FDA decision to approve Alzheimer’s controversial Aduhelm therapy despite conflicting evidence that the drug Biogen works and a negative vote against the therapy by agency advisers. Read more about Anna Edney.

Kennedy pushes bill for telehealth: Senator John kennedy (R-La.) Introduced legislation yesterday to improve access to telehealth services, according to a statement. Kennedy’s package of four bills would “increase reimbursement levels for health professionals performing virtual visits, end regulations that limit access to telehealth services” and “improve access to telehealth in the world. rural areas, ”the statement said. Find the text of the invoices here.

The coronavirus pandemic

The United States is investing $ 3.2 billion in the antiviral effort: The United States is investing $ 3.2 billion in the development of antiviral drugs to fight Covid-19 and other viruses with pandemic potential. The goal: to create treatments to be taken at home shortly after a person becomes ill. Dubbed the Antiviral Program for Pandemics, the campaign led by U.S. health agencies will support the production of antiviral treatments for Covid-19 and future disease threats, the Department of Health and Human Services said. Riley Griffin and Rebecca Torrance have more.

CureVac flop shows that Pfizer, Moderna’s mRNA looks too easy: The rapid development and remarkable effectiveness of the Covid-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna have created very high expectations for the new technology they are using. The disappointment of CureVac’s vaccine shows that not all messenger RNA projects will live up to expectations. The German biotechnology firm has made crucial choices that distinguish its candidate. Although the results of the trials published earlier this week are not directly comparable, and the proliferation of viral variants has complicated studies since the other injections were tested last year, experts say the main differences between the vaccines probably played a major role in CureVac’s poor results. Read more from Tim Loh and Naomi Kresge.

EU lifts travel restrictions on vaccinated Americans: The European Union has lifted travel restrictions for U.S. residents, in the last step towards a return to normalcy despite concerns over the spread of potentially dangerous coronavirus variants. EU governments today decided to add the United States, as well as Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macao, the Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan to a so-called ” white list ”of countries from which non-essential travel is permitted. Read more about Nikos Chrysoloras.

  • British authorities plan to open international travel to passengers fully vaccinated against Covid-19, allowing tourism to resume in more than 150 countries and territories, including the vital United States market. Read more from Tim Ross and Siddharth Philip.

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What else to know today

Opioids are destroying the American workforce: Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was the drug epidemic. His relentless toll added a record 90,722 overdose deaths in the United States for the year through November 2020, a grim number obscured by coronavirus victims who recently passed 600,000, according to federal data released this day. week. As the virus ripped through the country, the drug crisis spread to largely untouched parts of the country, exacerbated by the recession and millions of job losses.

Not only have shops and restaurants closed: counseling services have been brought online, inpatient clinics closed and mobile clinics have been taken down. Without support, many Americans have relapsed and some have turned to drugs for the first time. Before the pandemic, US unemployment had hit a half-century low of 3.5%; today, the country is still missing nearly 8 million people on the payroll. The Biden administration seeks full employment, but that goal will be daunting as companies face a more dependent workforce than ever before. Read more from Katia Dmitrieva and Reade Pickert.

Medicare spent the most money on drugs on advertised products: Medicare and its beneficiaries spent $ 560 billion on prescription drugs between 2016 and 2018, and nearly 60% of that money went to products that the pharmaceutical industry advertised directly to consumers, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released yesterday. The GAO report states that direct advertising practices may have led to increased patient use of Medicare and spending on at least some drugs. Read more from Lesley Torres.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon lee in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Zachary Sherwood at [email protected]; Giuseppe Macri at [email protected]; Michaela ross at [email protected]

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