Healthcare News January 11, 2012

  • States link health law’s Medicaid expansion to individual mandate

    The 26 states challenging President Obama’s healthcare law sought to link the law’s Medicaid expansion to its individual insurance mandate in a brief filed with the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

    The states say the law’s Medicaid expansion is coercive — that it goes beyond the program’s traditional federal-state partnership and essentially requires states to participate in Medicaid.

    No federal court has sided with the states on that point, but the Supreme Court nevertheless agreed to hear the Medicaid challenge along with the states’ suit over the requirement that almost everyone purchase insurance.

    “After months of litigation and hearings, not a single judge agreed with the claim that Congress couldn’t expand Medicaid,” an administration official said. “We are confident this trend will continue and that the Supreme Court will rule in our favor.”

    The states tried to link the Medicaid expansion to the mandate in their brief Tuesday.

  • Obama picks immigration reform advocate to lead domestic policy

    Muñoz is an immigration expert who worked for the National Council of La Raza, which works for Latino civil rights.

  • CBO: Raising Medicare age would save $148 billion

    Raising the Medicare eligibility age would save the federal government money while shifting more costs to seniors, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

    CBO also said the effects of raising the Medicare eligibility age would be “less onerous” if President Obama’s healthcare reform law remains in place.

    Proposals to raise the Medicare age have surfaced in nearly every round of budget-cutting talks in Congress since Republicans took over the House majority, and Obama put the idea on the table during negotiations last fall.

  • House panel releases report on worst foodborne illness outbreak in 25 years

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a new report Tuesday that sheds new light on the worst outbreak of foodborne illness in a quarter century.

    Contaminated cantaloupes from Colorado infected 146 people in 28 states last year, resulting in 30 deaths and one miscarriage. The report follows staff interviews with Food and Drug Administration officials and agricultural producers and distributors; it concludes that the deadly listeria outbreak could have been avoided if Jensen Farms had maintained its facilities in accordance with existing FDA guidance, which is not mandatory.

    “The committee launched an investigation to provide helpful information to the FDA, growers, distributors, and other authorities in their efforts to improve the safety of our nation’s food supply,” committee leaders said in a bipartisan statement. “The committee will continue to monitor upcoming examinations of the Listeria outbreak and related proposals to help prevent another such tragedy.”

    The report in particular faults the use of new processing equipment and the decision to implement a packing and washing technique involving water without added chlorine as two probable causes for the outbreak.

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