Health Law and Policy Update
This week's updates
- The Federal Budget: Countdown to August 2
- Religious Leaders Arrested for Budget Protest
- Colorado Health Benefits Exchange Board Holds Second Meeting
- Appeal of ACA goes to Supreme Court
- Consumer Groups Announce New Support Efforts to Implement National Health Care Law
- Please Call your representatives in the House and Senate
The Federal Budget: Countdown to August 2
According to Bob Greenstein at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Speaker Boehner's proposal "could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history." The Speaker's plan, Greenstein writes: "would essentially force policymakers to choose among cutting the incomes and health benefits of ordinary retirees, repealing the guts of health reform and leaving an estimated 34 million more Americans uninsured, and savaging the safety net for the poor - or letting the nation default early next year."
Religious Leaders Arrested for Budget Protest
UPI reports that eleven religious leaders were arrested after staging a sit-in at the United States Capitol to protest proposed budget cuts. The Christian and Jewish leaders were voicing their opposition to cuts to safety-net programs, asking Congressional leaders and the President not to "balance the budget on the backs of the poor".
Colorado Health Benefits Exchange Board Holds Second Meeting
The Colorado Health Benefits Exchange Board of Directors held its second meeting on Monday. The primary focus of the meeting was board formation and structure.
The first order of business was deciding which board members would serve as liaisons to the technical groups that are already in place and working on development of the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange.
The meeting's facilitators informed the board that three members had volunteered to serve as board chair: Gretchen Hammer, Nathan Wilkes, and Robert Ruiz-Moss. The vote to select a chair will occur at the board's August 11th meeting. The board also discussed the need to hire counsel, and other matters of board governance including what will constitute a quorum and whether there should be a vice-chair that automatically succeeds the chair after a year. The board created a three person committee to adress the bylaws consisting of board members Richard Betts and Steve Erkenbrack, and ex-officio board member Ken Lund.
Also discussed were conflict of interest and transparency policies. Mr. Wilkes stated that the bylaws must include conflict of interest policies. Mr. Erkenbrack followed up on this point, saying that it is important for board members to be transparent and careful about disclosures. Joan Henneberry, the Director of the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange, suggested that each board meeting begin with disclosures of conflicts of interest. Mr. Wilkes supported this idea, but noted that disclosure is not enough, and that board members must recuse themselves from votes if a conflict exists. This issue will also be taken up by the subcommittee addressing bylaws.
Presentations were made to the Board on the work of the Data Advisory Committee, the role of the Legislative Oversight Committee, and the work plan for the Health Benefits Exchange. The board created a subcommittee to help Ms. Henneberry and her staff review the Level 1 federal grant application due on September 31st. Board members Michael Fallon, Eric Grossman, and Gretchen Hammer will serve on that subcommittee
The board's next meeting will be August 11th from 9:30am to 1:30pm. On the agenda are bylaws, conflict of interest policy, and legal counsel. The board will also hear presentations from the other technical groups.
Appeal of ACA goes to Supreme Court
The Thomas More Law Center, the plaintiff in a 6th Circuit case challenging the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, filed a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the mandate in a 2-1 decision late last month.
While it is virtually certain that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, the Court could choose to wait to hear the case until other Circuit Courts make their decisions. Most observers believe the Court will hear the case in 2012. Other Circuits where decisions on the mandate are pending are: the 11th Circuit (this is the Florida case that was joined by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers); the 4th Circuit (where two District Courts have ruled, one for and one against, the constitutionality of the mandate) and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (the District Court upheld the mandate).
The Kaiser Family Foundation keeps a scoreboard on court action on the Affordable Care Act.
Consumer Groups Announce New Support for Efforts to Implement National Health Care Law
A coalition of advocacy groups, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, and Colorado Public Interest Research Group, have been awarded a grant from Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization, to ensure effective and consumer-focused implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Colorado.
"The new national health care law provides a unique opportunity to improve our health care system," said Robert Restuccia, Executive Director of Community Catalyst. "To make the most of this historic legislation, consumer advocates need to make sure that the interests of people who will be most affected by the changes to our health care system - and most need the improvements in the law - are at the table as policy decisions are made."
The grants were given to state-based consumer advocates in: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
What you can do
- Raise the debt ceiling without hurting low income and middle class families, seniors and people with disabilities.
- We need a balanced solution that includes spending cuts and revenue increases.
- We need a longer term solution- let's not go through this again in six or twelve months.
- Protect our safety net: Protect Medicaid. Don't hurt those who rely on our public programs.
Call 888-876-6242 toll free, and tell your Representative and both of your Senators that our nation needs a fair debt ceiling plan that protects Medicaid and doesn't make life worse for those who are already struggling.
Health Care Director
Health Care Attorney
Released July 29, 2011