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Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ See You In Court!

A federal district court judge in Texas has set Sept. 10 as the date for oral arguments in a case filed by Republican state attorneys general and governors from 20 states. Their lawsuit charges that the Affordable Care Act should be found unconstitutional following Congress’ elimination of the tax penalty for failing to have insurance. That date is less than two months before the critical midterm election that will determine which party controls Congress.

Meanwhile, a group of cities whose leaders support the health law have also filed suit. They charge that President Donald Trump has violated his constitutional duty to “take care” to “faithfully execute” laws passed by Congress in relation to the ACA. They say the damage done to the law by the Trump administration has raised health costs in their jurisdictions.

Also in court this week were Medicaid recipients from Arkansas, who say the state’s new work requirements for healthy people getting such coverage threatens their health care.

This week’s panelists for KHN’s “What the Health?” are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • The timing of the arguments in the attorneys general’s ACA case — and the possibility of a quick decision — could remind midterm voters that the GOP is still vowing to get rid of the law. On the other hand, some Republicans are hoping that the case will help fire up the base, which in the past has responded well to the party’s criticisms of the law.
  • The attorneys general in Missouri and West Virginia are among those bringing the suit — and they are also challenging incumbent Senate Democrats. Their political futures could be closely tied to the suit.
  • As Arkansas’ work requirements move to a court case, the state announced that thousands of people are in danger of losing coverage because they did not report their work hours online, as required.
  • Despite the administration’s strong opposition to the ACA, officials are divided over whether to allow states to accept only a partial expansion of Medicaid under the law. That would save money for the states — who shoulder part of the cost of Medicaid — but likely would cost the federal government more because many people who ordinarily would qualify for Medicaid would instead move to the health insurance marketplace and get federal subsidies.
  • Hospitals are watching with concern the Democratic debate over setting up a national, single-payer health system. Savings that the Democrats expect from such a move would likely have to come from hospitals’ and doctors’ revenues.

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: The Washington Examiner’s “Hospitals Present a Major Roadblock to Medicare for All Act,” by Kimberly Leonard

Also, Rovner mentioned a 2009 story: The New Yorker’s “Getting There From Here” by Atul Gawande

Margot Sanger-Katz: Kaiser Family Foundation’s “An Analysis Of Out-Of-Network Claims In Large Employer Health Plans,” by Gary Claxton, Matthew Rae, Cynthia Cox and Larry Levitt

Alice Ollstein: STAT News’ “Tapered To Zero: In Radical Move, Oregon’s Medicaid Program Weighs Cutting Off Chronic Pain Patients From Opioids,” by Lev Facher

Kimberly Leonard: Pew Stateline’s “For Addicted Women, the Year After Childbirth Is The Deadliest,” by Christine Vestal

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