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Today’s Headlines — June 29, 2012

It’s been a tumultuous 24 hours at Kaiser Health News, here are some of the major headlines from yesterday’s big day:

The New York Times: Supreme Court Lets Health Law Largely Stand, In Victory For Obama
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Obama’s health care overhaul law, saying its requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty was authorized by Congress’s power to levy taxes. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four more liberal members (Liptak, 6/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Court Backs Obama On Health Law
The ruling clears the way for the biggest revamp of America’s health-care system since the 1960s—and sets the stage for a renewed political fight over its merits. By a 5-4 vote, the court held the law’s mandate requiring Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty valid under Congress’s constitutional authority to levy taxes. The financial penalty for failing to carry insurance possesses “the essential feature of any tax,” producing revenue for the government, Chief Justice Roberts wrote (Bravin and Radnofsky, 6/29).

For more headlines …

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Upholds Obama’s Healthcare Law
Led by a chief justice who some conservatives immediately branded a turncoat, the Supreme Court upheld most of President Obama’s healthcare law Thursday, resolving a high-stakes constitutional clash not seen in decades and handing Obama a victory that surprised many in Washington (Savage, 6/29).

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Upholds Obama’s Health-Care Law
The court’s 5 to 4 ruling was a stunning legal conclusion to a battle that has consumed American politics for two years. Roberts’s compromise offered a dramatic victory for Obama and Democrats’ decades-long effort to enact a health-care law and a bitter defeat for Republicans and tea party activists, who had uniformly opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Barnes, 6/28).

The Wall Street Journal: In Moments After Decision, Confusion
The first word President Barack Obama received of the ruling on his signature legislative achievement was that he had lost. It took mere seconds for erroneous reports by a pair of cable news channels, CNN and Fox News, to set off a flurry of confusion among lawmakers, candidates and even the president, all of whom had carefully prepared multiple responses for the moment, based on different potential outcomes (Lee and Lippman, 6/28).

The New York Times: A Vindication, With A Legacy Still Unwritten
For Barack Obama, who staked his presidency on a once-in-a-generation reshaping of the social welfare system, the Supreme Court’s health care ruling is not just political vindication. It is a personal reprieve, leaving intact his hopes of joining the ranks of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan as presidents who fundamentally altered the course of the country (Landler, 6/28).

The Washington Post: Ruling Secures For Obama A Larger Place In History
Until Thursday, it wasn’t clear that future generations would have much to assess about the enduring legislative legacy of the Obama presidency. There had been no victory on climate change, no shift in the way Washington worked, no grand bargain to cut the deficit. And it looked as if a hostile Supreme Court was going sour on the Obama administration’s one big policy accomplishment — the marquee law achieving the liberal movement’s decades-long goal of near-universal health care (Wallsten, 6/28).

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Healthcare Ruling Gives Obama A Political Boost
The Supreme Court’s surprise healthcare ruling was a lift for President Obama, preventing what would have been an embarrassing setback in an election year. And it came from an unexpected source — a conservative jurist whose confirmation Obama voted against as a senator (West, 6/29).

Los Angeles Times: Scorned After Oral Arguments On Healthcare, Verrilli Emerges A Winner
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who was widely criticized in March for having flubbed the defense of President Obama’s healthcare law before the Supreme Court, may actually have been the person who saved the law, employing a move that went largely unnoticed at the time (Savage, 6/29).

Los Angeles Times: Ruling Allows Healthcare Changes To Proceed
After two years of heated debate, the Supreme Court, in largely upholding President Obama’s healthcare law, provided much-needed clarity to consumers, insurers, states and others. While some provisions of the law have already gone into effect, many of the most significant ones — including a requirement that almost all Americans have health insurance — won’t kick in until 2014 (Geiger, 6/29).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Decision: What Happens Now?
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold all but one provision in the Affordable Care Act means that for now, at least, one of the most far-reaching overhauls of the nation’s health-care system will be the law of the land. New rules for insurers that have taken effect will remain in place, while new opportunities to gain health-care coverage will begin in 2014 (Aizenman, 6/28).

The Washington Post: The Impact: What Does The Supreme Court’s Health-Care Ruling Mean For Me?
The court’s decision to uphold all but one component of the health-care law means new rules for insurers that have already taken effect will remain in place. Beginning in 2014, virtually all Americans will have to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty (6/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Decision Looms For States
The Supreme Court’s decision to let states opt out of the health overhaul’s Medicaid expansion without losing current funding for the program lifts a budget mandate from states but could mean fewer Americans gain insurance coverage under the law (Burton, Radnofsky and Dooren, 6/28).

NPR: High Court Health Care Ruling Shifts Action To States
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold nearly all of the Affordable Care Act may move the debate to presidential campaign trail. But it shifts much of the burden of implementing the law to the states.
States are actually responsible for the lion’s share of getting people without insurance covered under the health law (Rovner, 6/29). NPR has a number of other related stories, including Tight Court Decision Produces Explosion Of Emotion (Totenberg, 6/28), Supreme Court Health Care Decision: When A Tax Is Not A Tax (Peralta, 6/28); and Obama’s Supreme Court Health Care Victory Hard To Overstate (James, 6/28).

Los Angeles Times: Court’s Decision Could Widen Medicaid Gap
The Supreme Court did not dismantle that guarantee Thursday. But while upholding the Affordable Care Act, the court opened the door to something the president and other champions of the law sought to avoid — widening disparities between red and blue states in who gets healthcare. Under the court’s ruling, states will be free to elect not to cover all of their poor residents through their Medicaid programs (Levey, 6/29).

The New York Times: Uncertainty Over States And Medicaid Expansion
The Supreme Court said on Thursday that a huge expansion of Medicaid envisioned in the 2010 health care law was an option, not a mandate, for states. Experts disagreed on whether states would take the option, one of the most important questions created by the court’s decision (6/28).

The New York Times: States Face A Challenge To Meet Health Law’s Deadline
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act shifts the focus from whether sweeping changes to the health insurance market should take place to a scramble to meet the law’s rapidly approaching deadlines (Sack and Abelson, 6/28).

Los Angeles Times: Olive View Sees Healthcare Ruling As A New Challenge
It was a historic moment for the nation’s healthcare system, but a routine one at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center’s emergency department. Patients packed the waiting room suffering from chest pains, skin infections, stomach cramps and headaches — the least urgent cases waiting up to 12 hours to be seen (Bermudez and Zavis, 6/29).

The New York Times: Justices Allow The Term ‘Tax’ To Embrace ‘Penalty’
But by calling the penalty for not buying health insurance a tax, the Supreme Court on Thursday effectively created a tax that people will pay only if they do not buy something. That decision led some opponents of the health care law to proclaim that it was a large tax increase, something the sponsors of the bill had explicitly denied when the law was passed (Norris, 6/28).

The New York Times: In Health Care Ruling, Investors See A Mixed Blessing
Hospitals will gain millions of paying customers. Insurers, by contrast, could face crimped profits from restrictive rules. Medical device and pharmaceutical companies will bear new taxes and other higher payouts, but they were already expecting such costs (Pollack and Thomas, 6/28).

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Ruling Causes Big Swings In Healthcare Stocks
Healthcare stocks swung wildly as investors scrambled to figure out how the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Obama’s healthcare law would affect companies throughout the medical industry (Hamilton and Tangel, 6/29).

Los Angeles Times: Retailers, Factories, Main Street React To Supreme Court Ruling
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it respects the decision but called for more reforms anyway, maintaining that the ruling “does not change the reality that the health care law is fundamentally flawed.” The Main Street Alliance quoted its members as saying that “this is a good day for small businesses across America … [that] couldn’t afford to go back to the nightmare scenario” before the healthcare law (Hsu, 6/28).

NPR: Chief Justice Robert’s Vote Saves Health Care Law
By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court upheld almost all of the 2010 health care law. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying it is constitutional under Congress’ right to levy taxes (Totenberg, 6/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Roberts Straddles Ideological Divide
With the ruling he crafted that largely upheld President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Chief Justice Roberts reframed the court and his tenure at its helm (Jones and Kendall, 6/28).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Ruling Motivates Romney Supporters
If conservatives needed any more motivation to unseat President Obama, they got it Thursday from the Supreme Court, which provided fresh political opportunities for Mitt Romney even as it handed the president a legal victory. Chief among those new lines of attack is the court’s determination that the law’s individual mandate — the penalty it would impose on people who refuse to buy insurance — amounts to a tax. Obama had previously insisted it was “absolutely not a tax increase” (Tumulty and Henderson, 6/28).

NPR: Undeterred By Court’s Decision, GOP Vows To Repeal Health Care
Congressional Republicans reacted to the Supreme Court’s validation of President Obama’s health care law with a promise to repeal the law (Seabrook. 6/29).

The New York Times: GOP Vowing To Take Battle Over Health Care Law Into November
Taken aback by the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that upheld the constitutionality of the law, Mr. Romney and Congressional Republicans pledged to intensify their efforts to repeal it, an argument that will be a crucial element of the party’s quest to galvanize conservative activists and win control of the White House and the Senate (Zeleny, 6/28).

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court’s Healthcare Ruling: The Outlook For California
Amid the cheering in many quarters over the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the federal healthcare law, a sobering fact remains: California’s ailing healthcare system won’t be easy to fix. Millions of Californians will still lack insurance even after a massive coverage expansion. Medical costs and premiums are expected to keep rising, at least in the short run. And many of those who do gain coverage could have a tough time finding a doctor to treat them (Terhune, 6/29).

Los Angeles Times: Health Insurance Rate Hike Measure Won’t Be On November Ballot
A proposed voter initiative to require greater regulation of health insurance premiums in California has failed to qualify for the November ballot, according to the measure’s author. Jamie Court, president of the Santa Monica advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, said he was told Thursday by the secretary of state’s office that a spot check by county registrars of voters fell just short of the 555,236 signatures needed to go before voters in November’s presidential election (Lifsher, 6/29).

The Washington Post: Gov. McDonnell Calls Supreme Court Health-Care Decision ‘A Bad Ruling For The American People’
While Republican leaders in Richmond universally decried the ruling, their next step was less clear. McDonnell said he would meet with his staff to determine how or even if Virginia would move forward to create a health insurance exchange. McDonnell said that a state-based marketplace for insurance policies is a bad idea, but that a federally created one would be worse (Vozzella, 6/28).

The Washington Post: Ken Cuccinelli, On Second Thought, Likes Supreme Court Health-Care Decision
The reason? His first impression was based on the basic upshot of the ruling: The court had upheld “Obamacare.” His second was based on a closer look at the ruling, which he found upheld individual liberty and curbed federal power even as it left the law in place (Vozzella, 6/28).