Judge: Supreme Court Voice Needed on Health Care Reform

The Florida judge who declared the federal health care reform law unconstitutional "updated" his own ruling yesterday and urged that "the sooner this issue is decided by the Supreme Court, the better off the entire nation will be."

On January 31, 2011, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson (Pensacola, Florida) determined that the “individual mandate” provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is unconstitutional and declared the remainder of the Act void because it was not severable.  The defendants (the Obama administration) filed a motion to clarify with the court, suggesting that there would be adverse consequences from an immediate halt of implementing the Act given that many provisions are now in effect and that several other district court judges have upheld the law.

Yesterday, the judge stated that while his original order “was as clear and unambiguous as it could be, it is possible that the defendants may have perhaps been confused or misunderstood its import.”  He did however, treat the clarification as a stay from his original order and as such granted it.  He conditioned the stay upon the defendants filing their anticipated appeal within seven days of his order, either in the Court of Appeals or with the Supreme Court. He chastised the administration that it had been more than a month since his order and the defendants had not filed their notice of appeal.

Twenty six states, including Indiana, are party to the lawsuit. On Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse, a joint meeting took place with the House and Senate Insurance and Health Committees. Attorney General Greg Zoeller commented on PPACA and offered his view that in those states that were party to the suit the Act was unenforceable. Those comments do not apply a day later as Judge Vinson’s stay to his original order was granted. 

Ice Miller, Attorney General to Explain Impact of Health Reform on Your Company

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the most sweeping health care reform legislation since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid 1960s. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act (collectively, "Act"), will eventually impact nearly every employer, business, individual and health care provider in America.

The Act is over 900 pages long, and it includes some provisions that have received considerable attention, such as individual and employer mandates to obtain insurance coverage. Many other provisions have not received such attention, yet they will have a significant impact on individuals and employers. There is also a perception among some that the Act does not become effective for several years. While this is true for certain provisions, such as the excise tax on high cost health insurance plans, several other important provisions will require many employers to review and revise their employee benefit plans as early as September 2010.

It is important that Chamber members and other Indiana employers understand the many changes under the new health care reform Act and the impact these changes will have on their business. To assist in this regard, the Chamber and Ice Miller are hosting the third in a series of seminars on health care reform on April 29, 2010, at the Hilton in downtown Indianapolis.

This seminar will include presentations on the following topics:

  • Background on the Health Care Reform Debate
  • Overview of Key Parts of the Act and a Timeline for Implementation
  • Impact on Employers and Benefit Plans
  • Impact on Taxpayers and Taxes

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller will discuss the litigation filed by Indiana and several other states to challenge certain aspects of the Act.  Additionally, the conference will include two panel discussions with distinguished speakers.  One panel will feature representatives from Anthem, Eli Lilly (invited), the Cook Group, the Indiana Hospital Association and the Indiana State Medical Association discussing the Act’s impact on the health care industry. The second panel discussion will focus on the Act’s impact on large and small employers and union employees and will include speakers from Fairfield Manufacturing, Womack Restaurants, and the Indiana Chamber. There will also be focus group sessions during the conference lunch on topics of interest to certain groups. Ice Miller lawyers with applicable experience will facilitate discussions and answer questions on the following topics:

  • Benefit plans, wellness programs, and other cost reduction efforts
  • Business and funding opportunities created by the new law
  • Impact on health care providers

This seminar provides a unique opportunity to learn about the sweeping changes and to hear how other individuals and businesses plan to deal with these changes. We urge you to attend.

Indiana AG: Beware of Flu-related Scam

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller warns:

Telephone solicitors reportedly have called Hoosiers in an effort to sell “mandatory swine flu kits,” claiming that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are requiring their purchase.

Such claims are false and fraudulent. No level of government is requiring the purchase of a safety kit for the North American Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak. Moreover, a medical diagnosis should be left to a medical professional.

“Not only are these telephone solicitors cynically exploiting people’s fears in order to commit fraud, but they also may be violating Indiana’s telephone privacy laws. Depending on who was contacted, this scam may violate Indiana’s Do Not Call statute; and if an unauthorized prerecorded message is used, it would violate Indiana’s Auto-Dialer statute as well. In either event, consumers who receive such calls should keep the number, if possible, so that our office can investigate,” Zoeller said.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is encouraging Hoosiers to maintain good hygiene practices, such as washing their hands often, and avoiding those who might be ill.

However, if you do have concerns about the flu and would like some legitimate reference material from a source you can trust, the Chamber does offer a Disaster Planning Guide that will help your organization or school prepare for and deal with issues like the flu, natural disasters, chemical spills, etc.