Healthcare News January 12, 2012

  • Nearly 500 state lawmakers to press Supreme Court to uphold healthcare mandate

    More than 480 state lawmakers plan to file a brief Thursday urging the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s healthcare law.

    The group includes at least one lawmaker from every state, including the 26 states whose attorneys general are suing to overturn the healthcare law’s individual insurance mandate. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March and will likely rule on the law this summer.

    The state lawmakers say requiring almost all Americans to buy insurance falls well within Congress’s power under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Echoing the Justice Department’s arguments in support of the mandate, the state legislators said the Constitution gives Congress broad authority to regulate interstate commerce.

    “The idea that the federal government does not have the power to address a national problem such as the health care crisis has no basis in the Constitution’s text and history,” the lawmakers’ brief says, according to a summary released Thursday.

    The brief is a joint effort of the Progressive States Network, the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform and the Constitutional Accountability Center.

    Critics of the insurance mandate say it goes beyond Congress’s ability to regulate economic activity and instead requires a particular activity. The Obama administration says the mandate simply regulates how — and whether — people pay for the healthcare services everyone will eventually use.

  • Democrats urge high court to uphold state workers’ right to sue over medical leave

    Two high-ranking Democrats involved in the drafting of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act are urging the Supreme Court not to strike down state workers’ ability to sue under the law.

    The high court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case brought by a former Maryland state court worker who said he was fired in 2007 after taking 10 days off to treat hypertension and diabetes. The law requires certain employers to allow workers to take up to 12 unpaid weeks off per year to deal for qualified medical and family issues.

    The fired man sued for damages, but a lower court tossed out his complaint. Maryland and 26 other states say he should never have been able to sue for damages in the first place, however.

  • Patient groups seek delay on ‘essential benefit’ rules

    A broad coalition of patient advocates Wednesday asked the Obama administration to slow down its implementation of a key regulation under the healthcare law.

    A group of 75 patient organizations asked the Health and Human Services Department to allow more time for public comment on its proposal for defining essential health benefits. The healthcare law directs HHS to define a package of essential benefits that all insurance plans will have to cover beginning in 2014.

    HHS raised eyebrows last month by announcing that it would leave determination of essential benefits largely up to the states. Defining a generous and prescriptive set of benefits could significantly increase the cost of insurance. But patient advocates said the purpose of the requirement is to ensure that necessary services are covered, and too much leeway will undermine that goal.

    The 75 groups that wrote to HHS on Wednesday asked the department to extend the period for public comment on its proposal by 45 days. They cited the scope of the issues involved and the fact that the proposal came shortly before the holiday season.

    Weighing in on this decision is far too important to be done with anything less than careful and intensive deliberation, the groups wrote.

  • Physicians Interactive Holdings Well-Positioned to Accelerate Growth

    Merck Global Health Innovation Fund Makes Strategic investment

    Marlborough, MA – January 5, 2012 – Physicians Interactive Holdings, Inc. the leading provider of mobile and web-based clinical resources and solutions for healthcare professionals, today announced it entered into an agreement with Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, LLC (“GHIF”) to invest up to $17 million in the Company. The financing includes an initial investment of $8.5 million and potential future investments of up to $8.5 million contingent upon achieving certain pre-specified milestones. The proceeds will be used to fund the growth initiatives of four key products and other initiatives as identified by the Board. Physicians Interactive Holdings was identified by GHIF as being on the forefront of healthcare innovation, and the investment is part of the fund’s strategy to help nurture leading global healthcare solutions.

    Today, Physicians Interactive Holdings partners with healthcare professionals and life science companies to provide a powerful integrated suite of clinical medical reference tools, electronic drug sampling and interactive education. The solutions are blended into the clinician’s daily workflow via web, mobile and electronic health records channels, saving time that can be redirected back to critical patient care.

    “We are excited by this investment from Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and it validates both our achievements to-date and the compelling vision around our innovative programs for healthcare professionals and life science companies. This investment will allow us to further expand our internal product development and customer solutions, as well as explore new markets and additional customer segments,” said Donato Tramuto, CEO and vice chairman of Physicians Interactive Holdings.

    GHIF will have a minority position in Physicians Interactive Holdings and will appoint one of their executives to join the Physicians Interactive Holdings Board of Directors, which currently has six members.

    About Physicians Interactive Holdings, Inc.:

    Physicians Interactive Holdings (PIH) is the leading provider of mobile and web-based clinical resources and solutions that help medical professionals, anytime, anywhere, provide better patient care. PIH uses use the full power of a worldwide network of healthcare professionals and life sciences companies together in ways that will change the practice and business of medicine, for the better. PIH has developed a foundation of user-generated, proprietary and public data that powers a networked suite of transactional applications, including eSampling, interactive learning programs and mobile solutions. Skyscape.com Inc. is part of PIH and is owned by Perseus LLC, a merchant bank and private equity fund management company. For more information about PIH, visit www.physiciansinteractive.com.

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