Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

Virginia Court Upholds Healthcare Reform Law

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

In a second judicial victory for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a federal judge in Virginia threw out Liberty University’s lawsuit that challenged the legality of the Obama administration’s landmark healthcare reform law.  The ruling by U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon of Lynchburg is the second court decision upholding the law, following one in Michigan in October.  Liberty University law school dean Mathew Staver plans to quickly appeal the ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.  Liberty University is a faith-based institution that was founded in 1971 by the late Jerry Falwell.

Judge Moon writing in his 53-page opinion, said that “there is a rational basis for Congress to conclude that individuals’ decisions about how and when to pay for healthcare are activities that in the aggregate substantially affect the interstate healthcare market.”  Liberty claimed in its suit that the obligation that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty is an improper exercise of congressional authority under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.  The university argued – unsuccessfully — that the decision to not purchase insurance is not an economic activity that can be regulated by Congress.

Two additional lawsuits are still pending.  The Florida attorney general has filed a similar suit in his state; there is another challenge from Virginia attorney general Kenneth Cuccinelli, which is on the docket in a federal court in Richmond.  U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson expects to rule in Cuccinelli’s lawsuit by year’s end.

In the weeks ahead, there will be additional court cases examining this matter and the health reform law,” Stephanie Cutter, assistant to the president for special projects, wrote in a White House blog post.   “We can’t predict the outcome of each case, but we are confident that we will ultimately prevail in court and continue to deliver the benefits of reform to the American people.”

Affordable Care Act Passes Its First Court Test

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Healthcare reform survives its initial court case. Can the government make people buy insurance?  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has survived its first court test, an attempt in Michigan to overturn the mandatory insurance provision that requires Americans to buy minimum coverage. The ruling by U.S. District Judge George Steeh was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center, which had requested an injunction against the ACA on the grounds that it exceeds Congress’ authority and is an unconstitutional tax.

In his 20-page decision, Steeh ruled that Congress has the power to pass the law under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.  According to the decision, “The minimum coverage provision, which addresses economic decisions regarding healthcare services that everyone eventually, and inevitably, will need, is a reasonable means of effectuating Congress’ goal.”

Steeh noted that “Without the minimum coverage provision, there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times.  As a result, the most costly individuals would be in the insurance system and the least costly would be outside it.  In turn, this would aggravate current problems with cost-shifting and lead to even higher premiums.”

The Thomas More Law Center plans to appeal Judge Steeh’s ruling.

HHS Secretary Sebelius Takes on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says the health insurance system is broken and must be reformed, citing attempts by a large insurance company in Michigan to raise premiums by as much as 56 percent. Sebelius’ report, “Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer:  Our Broken Health Insurance System”, cited Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for trying to raise premiums on 200,000 people aged between 18 and 64 who have individual, Medicare Supplemental or group conversion policies.  Michigan Insurance Commissioner Ken Ross pared back Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s request to just 22 percent.Kathleen Sebelius lashes out at insurance companies.

“Premium increases have left thousands of families that are already struggling during the economic downturn with an unpleasant choice between fewer benefits, higher premiums or having no insurance at all.  Hard-working families deserve better,” Sebelius said.

Andy Hetzel, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s vice president of corporate communications, took issue with Sebelius’ statement – primarily via Twitter.  Hetzel said the report failed to take into account differing circumstances between states that led to the rate increase request.  “As the insurer of last resort in Michigan, Blue Cross Blue shield covers the costliest population to insure.  That’s because Blue Cross Blue Shield must accept everybody who applies for coverage, regardless of their health status, while commercial carriers can reject applicants deemed too risky.  We have a uniquely dysfunctional problem in the individual market.”

In terms of the HHS report, Hetzel said “They’re painting the industry with a broad brush.  It fails to recognize state-level business issues that the Health and Human Services Department should be aware of.”  Hetzel might be underestimating Secretary Sebelius, who served as Kansas’ insurance commissioner from 1995 until 2003, when she was elected governor.

John Dingell A Little-Known Healthcare Reform Advocate

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Congressman John Dingell is a pioneer of healthcare reform legislation.  Representative John Dingell Jr.’s (D-MI) journey to making healthcare reform a reality dates back to 1932 when his father — John Dingell Sr., an architect of the New Deal — initially introduced Medicare legislation in the early days of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency.  The 83-year-old Dingell Jr., is one of the lead sponsors of the House legislation that will be reconciled with the Senate bill in conference committee.

Dingell, who is the longest-ever serving member of the House of Representatives, has introduced a national health insurance bill on the first day of every Congressional session as a tribute to his father.  After John Dingell, Sr. died in 1955, his son assumed his father’s Congressional seat and the quest to make national health insurance a reality.

Commenting on the Senate’s recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Dingell said that “I commend my colleagues in the Senate on achieving this historic milestone.   The journey is long, but the reward will be great. Unlike any other time in our history, we have two strong pieces of comprehensive health reform legislation that promise to deliver much needed access and relief to the American people.  When President Obama signs a final, combined bill, we will be well on our way to fulfilling our longstanding moral obligation — providing quality, affordable coverage for every American.  However, as is usually the case with any major overhaul, this is the first step in the process, not the last.”

House Proposes $1.5 Trillion Healthcare Reform Package

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

The House of Representatives has proposed a $1.5 trillion package that would make healthcare coverage a right and a responsibility for all citizens.  If passed, medical providers, employers and the wealthy would pick up the tab.  The United States is the only developed nation that lacks healthcare coverage for all citizens, and approximately 50 Health Care Reformmillion people do not have access to insurance.

“We cannot allow this issue to be delayed.  We cannot put it off again,” says Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee.  “We quite frankly cannot go home for a recess unless the House and the Senate both pass bills to reform and restructure our healthcare system.”

President Obama is promoting healthcare reform every chance he gets.  In a Michigan speech about spending for community colleges, he said, “There’s going to be a major debate over the next three weeks.  And don’t be fooled by folks trying to scare you saying we can’t change the healthcare system.  We have no choice but to change the healthcare system because right now it’s broken for many Americans.”

Organizing for America – Obama’s campaign organization – is launching a series of 30-second television ads on healthcare reform that will air in Washington D.C., on cable networks nationally and on local stations in eight states.  The ads depict ordinary citizens telling their stories about problems with the current healthcare system.