Supreme Court Expected to Rule on PPACA Later This Week

After great anticipation, the Supreme Court is likely to announce its decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on Thursday. The White House and Congress have been gearing up for weeks to react to the court’s decision on the constitutionality of the individual mandate and other provisions of the PPACA.

House Republican leaders warned their members against “spiking the ball” if the court strikes down some or all of the law. Regardless of the decision, it is expected that House Republicans will schedule another vote to repeal the PPACA or whatever remains of the law after the Supreme Court decision. Their intent to replace the PPACA with “step by step” reforms will likely be delayed until after the November elections.

The Supreme Court decision will also release the stays on the numerous other federal cases involving the PPACA, including among other suits: the constitutionality of the Independent Payment Advisory Board; whether First Amendment rights are violated by the PPACA’s mandate for religiously affiliated hospitals and other organizations to provide contraception and other services they say violate their religious values; and whether the law unconstitutionally prevents the expansion of doctor owned hospitals.

FDA User Legislation Scheduled for Enactment

Under suspension of the rules, the House passed, with an amendment, the previously passed Senate bill, S. 3187, which reauthorizes the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) and Medical Device User Fee Act (MDUFA), authorizes new user fees for generic and biologic drugs, contains the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act providing additional exclusivity periods and priority review by the FDA for manufacturers developing new antibiotics for a serious and life-threatening infection, and bans certain synthetic drugs (e.g. bath salts) among other provisions.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled a cloture vote in the Senate for early this week with enactment expected before the upcoming weeklong July 4th recess. Early passage of the legislation will enable the FDA to administer the law before the current user fee authorization expires on September 30.

House Ways and Means Hearing on MedPAC Report

At a House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Hearing to review the annual Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) report, the MedPAC Chairman, Glenn Hackbarth, defended the commission’s recommendation to restructure Medicare by combining the Part A and B deductibles, replacing coinsurance with copays that vary by type of service and provider, levying a surcharge on Medigap coverage and placing a cap on out-of-pocket beneficiary spending.

Although Subcommittee Chairman Wally Herger (R-CA) said Congress should be open to any and all solutions to fixing the financial challenges posed by Medicare, two other Republican members, Reps. Sam Johnson (TX) and Dave Reichert (WA) expressed concerns that the Medigap fee would force some beneficiaries to delay essential care. To access a fact sheet on the report click here.