March 24th, 2010
12:51 PM ET

Health care bill lawsuits are going nowhere

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/24/t1.healthcare.jpg width=300 height=169]Editor's note: Timothy Stoltzfus Jost is a professor of law at the Washington and Lee University. Jost, a Democrat, blogs about legal issues in health reform at http://www.oneillhealthreformblog.org . The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Stolzfus Jost.

Timothy Stoltzfus Jost
Special to CNN

A state attorney general is almost by definition a candidate for higher office. The filing of lawsuits challenging the health reform law by 14 attorneys general - all but one of them Republican - may look good for their next campaigns, but these cases are going nowhere legally.

The case filed by Florida and 12 other states challenges obligations allegedly imposed on the states by the statute as well as the individual insurance purchase mandate imposed by the law. The Virginia case challenges only the individual mandate, setting up against it a new Virginia law purporting to nullify it.

One of the states' claims is based on a simple misreading of the health reform law.

The lawsuit claims that it compels the states to enforce the federal law or to operate exchanges that would make health insurance available to consumers. Section 1321 gives states the choice of doing so or not, and if states elect not to do so, the federal government will enforce the law and operate the exchange in the state.

No state has to do anything, except make its choice known to the federal government. Moreover, section 1333 of the act allows states to apply for a waiver to take a completely different approach to covering their residents if they have a better idea.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care • Opinion • Timothy Stoltzfus Jost
March 24th, 2010
12:16 PM ET

Life in the murder capital of the world

Program Note: Don't miss Part 2 of Gary Tuchman's report on drug violence in Juarez, Mexico tonight at AC360° at 10PM ET.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Gary Tuchman • Mexico
March 24th, 2010
12:14 PM ET

When will health care reform affect you?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/24/t1.healthcare2.jpg width=300 height=169]

President Obama signed sweeping health care reform into law Tuesday. The Senate must now pass a package of changes that will reconcile the differences between Senate and House bills. If those changes are worked out, here is how health care reforms will affect you:

Within the first year

• Young adults will be able stay on their parents' insurance until their 27th birthday.

• Seniors will get a $250 rebate to help fill the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug coverage, which falls between the $2,700 initial limit and when catastrophic coverage kicks in at $6,154.

• Insurers will be barred from imposing exclusions on children with pre-existing conditions. Pools will cover those with pre-existing health conditions until health care coverage exchanges are operational.

• Insurers will not be able to rescind policies to avoid paying medical bills when a person becomes ill.

• Lifetime limits on benefits and restrictive annual limits will be prohibited.

• New plans must provide coverage for preventive services without co-pays. All plans must comply by 2018.

• A temporary reinsurance program will help offset costs of coverage for companies that provide early retiree health benefits for those ages 55 to 64.

• New plans will be required to implement an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.

• Adoption tax credit and assistance exclusion will increase by $1,000. The bill makes the credit refundable and extends it through 2011.

• A 10 percent tax will be imposed on amounts paid for indoor tanning services on or after July 1.

• Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will get tax credits covering 35 percent of their health care premiums, increasing to 50 percent by 2014.

How the reforms will affect you by 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2018...

Sources: House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor committees; Kaiser Family Foundation

March 24th, 2010
11:40 AM ET

Can the GOP succeed by running against health care?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/15/art.capitolbldg.0315d.gi.jpg caption="The falling action in the Senate over the next week or two will only exacerbate the partisan divide in Washington, Mark Halperin says."]

Mark Halperin

In the 7½ months between now and November's midterm elections, millions of Americans will be whipped into a frenzy over the purported evils in the Democrats' health care bill, egged on by Fox News chatter, Rush Limbaugh's daily sermons, threats of state legislative and judicial action and the solemn pledge of Republicans in Washington to make the fall election a referendum on Obamacare. But in doing so, they may be playing right into the Democrats' hands.

President Obama gave a strong closing argument in the fortnight leading up to the dramatic March 21 floor votes, delivering speeches in the key states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and achieving levels of "fired up and ready to go" not seen since his presidential campaign. Such passionate pleas stiffened the spines of his party brethren, who have been anticipating and dreading months of over-the-top rhetoric about the ruinous consequences of a Democrats-only effort to bring the U.S. into the community of nations that make health care available to all their citizens. Indeed, not every Democratic member of Congress has embraced the White House theme that doing the right thing for the nation is more important than preserving individual seats in the Capitol. But enough hearts and minds were changed to allow the Obama-Pelosi tag team to get its majority at long last.

The falling action in the Senate over the next week or two will only exacerbate the partisan divide in Washington, inevitably mirrored throughout the country for the rest of the year. Republicans in the upper chamber not only will vociferously oppose the Democratic plan to pass the changes to their bill with the simple majority procedure known as reconciliation but will also make it clear that any prospect for meaningful bipartisan cooperation on any and all issues is dead and buried, at least for now.


March 24th, 2010
11:28 AM ET

Video: Teen turns to weight surgery

Program Note: Maria's story is part one of a three-part series on childhood obesity continuing tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET, with a report from Dr. Sanjay Gupta on a child with very adult health problems.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Childhood Obesity • Obesity • Randi Kaye
March 24th, 2010
11:22 AM ET
March 24th, 2010
10:05 AM ET

Dear President Obama #429: “This is not a big *** deal"

Reporter's Note: President Obama reads my letters every day. At least I think so. Or I like to think so. Either way, I write them…day after day to Pennsylvania Avenue.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/24/art.obama.biden.hcsigning.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

President Obama has now officially signed the health care reform legislation, using more than twenty pens in the process.  Funny, it never takes me more than one to write a whole letter to the White House every single day.

Dear Mr. President,

That Joe Biden is funnier than a German jazz band. When he lobbed the f-bomb right at the podium during your big health care celebration event, I nearly spit out my Cheerios. And the look on your face was priceless! It was like I could hear the entire play-by-play going on in your head, “Ok, Joe…you did a good introduction. Now, step this way, let’s shake hands. You’re saying something to me, not sure what it is, but there are microphones right there…and…and what? WHAT? Oh no…you didn’t.”

Perhaps I’m being a tad cavalier, but for all the serious things going on in DC, I can’t get too worked up over matters like this. Should a vice president be spouting like Popeye on a three day drunk? No, probably not. But will it cause the oceans to run red, locusts to descend from the skies, and Duke to double dribble in the championship? Again…no, probably not.

I wish our language were a little cleaner. I’m not always proud of my word choices. For example, I once recall saying “spectral” when I really meant “ethereal.” And there were nuns nearby! Boy, was my face red. FULL POST

March 24th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Are you overweight?

Program Note: Part one of a three-part series on childhood obesity airs tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

From the CDC: Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Childhood Obesity • Health Care • Obesity
March 24th, 2010
09:59 AM ET

Are you one of 25% of Americans who have diabetes and don't know it?

Program Note: Part one of a three-part series on childhood obesity airs tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

According to the CDC, 25% of Americans with diabetes don't even know they have the disease. Fill out the questionnaire below to find out if you could have diabetes, then click on the questionnaire to read more from the CDC about getting tested, the risks of diabetes, and managing your health.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Childhood Obesity • Health Care • Obesity
March 24th, 2010
09:45 AM ET

In Juarez with a marked man

Program Note: Don't miss Part 2 of Gary Tuchman's report on drug violence in the murder capital of the world tonight at AC360° at 10PM ET.

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

I've been over the border doing stories on the drug war countless times over the past 2 years. It's become routine, you're more aware of your surroundings, you're more careful and you're always looking around for anything a little out of the ordinary, but all in all, it's just about reporting the various stories you see when you're there. The events of the past week made this time feel just a little different.

As Gary Tuchman, Gil DeLaRosa and I drove over the border in El Paso, Texas we knew we were out to meet a marked man in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz has been warned. Step Down or die. There was a pigs head left with a note saying that if he didn't resign by this week, he'd suffer the same fate that thousands of others have suffered here in Juarez since the Mexican President declared war on the drug lords.


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Ismael Estrada • Mexico
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