January 12 | Headlines
On January 10, 2012, twenty-six states filed a brief with the US Supreme Court challenging the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that expands Medicaid for the poor and disabled. The brief argues that PPACA’s expansion of Medicaid is so integral to the law that PPACA in its entirety should be declared unconstitutional. The government predicts that the enrollment in Medicaid will increase by 16 million people by the end of 2020. The states argue that PPACA would in practice make the states’ participation in Medicaid mandatory because federal funding for other programs would be eliminated if they do not. The federal government’s brief on this issue is due February 10.
On January 7, the federal government filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that the minimum coverage provision of the PPADA, which requires most US citizens to obtain health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty, should not be looked at in isolation and that the entire Act should be upheld.
December 9 | Headlines
A report from the Congressional Research Service including discussion of the 12-member budget reduction “super committee.” http://bit.ly/sMALa4
October 12 | Headlines
Liberty University has petitioned the US Supreme Court to review the case it brought seeking to invalidate the individual mandate and the large employer assessment provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The District Court upheld the provisions. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit vacated the judgment holding that the Anti-Injunction Act strips the court of jurisdiction since those provisions of the act are not yet in effect.
This is the fourth petition regarding the PPACA to reach the Supreme Court. The Eleventh Circuit has struck down the individual mandate. The Department of Justice, as well as 26 states, has sought review of that decision. The Sixth Circuit upheld the law. The Third Circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by a physician organization for lack of standing.
It is becoming increasingly likely the Supreme Court will grant the requests and hear the cases this term.
August 5 | Headlines
The US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against Rumsfield on a motion to dismiss. The US citizen, formerly employed as an intelligence officer by a US Defense Department contractor, claims he was abducted and tortured while imprisoned in Iraq without charges having been formerly brought concerning allegations he passed information to the enemy. The Justice Department is defending Rumsfeld. This is the second time Rumsfield has been allowed to be sued personally in a torture case. http://bit.ly/o4Xv5j
August 1 | Headlines
In an opinion piece Cornell law professor Michael Dorf argues that failure of the President to pay sums due might violate Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment as it would call into question “the validity of the public debt of the United States,” but Article I, Section 8, Clause 2 provides that it is the Congress which has the power “to borrow Money on the credit of the United States.”
Let’s hope the members of Congress who have seemed more interested in partisan rancor than in solving problems, don’t put the President in that dilemma and, for the first time in our nation’s history, force the courts to address this constitutional law issue. http://bit.ly/pjdvLk
According to the New York Times, the suit in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta alleges that DaVita, one of the nation’s largest providers of kidney dialysis, deliberately used larger vials than necessary knowing that Medicare would pay for the unused medicine. Medicare changed its reimbursement policy in January to bundle the cost of medicine with the cost of providing the treatment. The New York Times reports that following the change in the law, many practices of DiVita changed to provide more frequent treatment with lower dosages. If true, such practices would call into question whether treatment decisions for Medicare patients are sometimes motivated more by profit than by patient care. http://nyti.ms/p7wNuk
The Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI has opened a probe into whether employees of News Corp. hacked or attempted to hack into the private callls and phone records of Sept. 11 victims and their families. Robert Murdock’s News Corp acquired ownership of the Wall Street Journal in 2007 http://on.wsj.com/qUPOWC
Pretty amazing, but let’s hope the U.S. Government puts export controls on this technology. We have a big enough problem already with counterfeit products being sold. And what about military weapons being “printed?” http://bit.ly/oaldFk
On July 8, 2011, a 23-year old Yemeni man, Mounir Ali, pleaded guilty in U.S District Court, Norfolk, Virginia, to a pirate attack on a private U.S.-flag yacht off the coast of the Horn of Africa. The yacht was hijacked in February by 19 pirates intending to hold the four Americans on board for ransom. U.S forces responded to the “mayday” and were attempting to negotiate release of the captives when shots rang out on the yacht. Navy forces then boarded the yacht and discovered that all four Americans had been shot by their captors. All subsequently died.
Two pirates were killed in the skirmish and 15 were captured. Two others were discovered dead when U.S forces boarded the vessel.
Eleven of the pirates have now pleaded guilty. Sentencing for Mounir Ali is set for October 21.
U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia released a statement saying: “This latest guilty plea again shows that modern piracy is far different than the romantic portrayal in summer-time movies. Pirates who attack U.S. citizens on the high seas will face justice in a U.S. courtroom.”
Here’s a short but comprehensive summary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, its implementation timetable, legislative response by some states, and legal challenges to it. http://bit.ly/mIxVaS