Health Care Reform Update -- April 2, 2012

In This Issue:

Special Report: Health Reform before the Supreme Court; Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); Other HHS and Federal Regulatory Initiatives; Other Congressional and State Initiatives; and Other Health Care News.

Excerpt from Special Report: Health Reform before the Supreme Court

Last week all eyes in the health policy world were tuned to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held much-anticipated oral arguments on constitutional merits of several portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the week leading up to the five and one-half hours of oral arguments – the longest span allotted since 1976 – C-SPAN conducted a poll which found that 91% of Americans were either “somewhat” or “very” closely following news coverage of the case. The considerable attention paralleled a renewed interest in televising the proceedings, with 74% of those polled arguing that the three days of arguments warranted such coverage.

Ultimately, the Court rejected the attempt at television coverage, but permitted the unprecedented release of audio recordings and transcripts on the same day as the oral arguments. Still, as could be expected from that demand for coverage, major news outlets issued numerous updates and did not shy away from making predictions about the result. The consensus that emerged held that Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr., was the recipient of particularly piercing questions from the more conservative Justices on the Court, on the issue of whether the individual mandate is constitutional. While such questioning does not necessarily indicate the Supreme Court’s ultimate holding, it was enough to fuel speculation that the individual mandate might be struck down.

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