First Edition: October 15, 2010

Today’s top stories from major news organizations report on the effort by 20 states to challenge the federal health law, a new federal panel to inform consumers about health care options and the struggle to pay for cancer care.

Challenging Health Care Law, Suit Advances 

In a foreboding ruling for the Obama administration, a federal judge in Florida decreed Thursday that a legal challenge to the new health care law by officials from 20 states could move forward and warned that he would have to be persuaded that its keystone provision — a requirement that most Americans obtain insurance — is constitutional (The New York Times).

Judge Allows Healthcare Challenge To Proceed 
A federal judge in Florida handed opponents of the new healthcare law an early procedural victory Thursday, rejecting a bid by the Obama administration to throw out the leading lawsuit challenging the sweeping overhaul (Los Angeles Times).

Judge Allows Challenge To Health-Coverage Mandate 
A Florida federal judge cleared the way Thursday for a major challenge to the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul, expressing sympathy for the plaintiffs’ claim that a mandate requiring most Americans to carry health insurance is unconstitutional (The Wall Street Journal).

Judge Allows States’ Lawsuit Over Health Care Law 
A federal judge in Florida ruled that some parts of a lawsuit challenging the new health care law need to be heard and should proceed to trial. The case was brought by attorneys general in 20 states who argue it’s unconstitutional to require individuals to have health coverage and to make states pay higher Medicaid costs (NPR).

Florida Judge: Fight Against Insurance Mandate Can Proceed 
The widely expected ruling does not mean that Florida Northern District Senior Judge Roger Vinson agrees that the law is unconstitutional, only that the arguments against it can’t be dismissed out of hand as the Obama administration had requested. Vinson threw out four other counts having to do with taxation and requiring states to enforce the law (The Hill).

Federal Judge Lets 20 States’ Health-Care Lawsuit Move Forward 
The decision by Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to reject the Obama administration’s request to throw out the case was expected. During oral arguments over the government’s motion to dismiss last month, Vinson had indicated that he was likely to rule at least partly in the states’ favor (The Washington Post).

Judge Disses Dems’ ‘Alice In Wonderland’ Health Defense 
A federal judge in Florida on Thursday said he will allow some of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care law to proceed — and criticized Democrats for making an “Alice in Wonderland” argument to defend the law. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson allowed two major counts to proceed: the states’ challenge to the controversial requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance and a required expansion of the Medicaid program (Politico).

Cuccinelli “Pleased” With Florida Health Care Ruling 
Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) said he’s “pleased” a Florida judge has ruled a 20-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care bill can move forward (The Washington Post).

Boehner Signs Conservative Pledge To Repeal Health Reform Law 
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday became the highest-ranking lawmaker to sign a conservative pledge to repeal and replace the Democrats’ health reform law (The Hill).

Empowering The Public With Health-Care Facts 
If you’re not familiar with the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s board, you’re not alone. Created by the health-care overhaul law, it’s one of the newest and least known panels in government. But the work of its 21 members, if successful, could increase the public’s knowledge of medical treatments for everything from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder to cancer. And it could dramatically change how you discuss treatments with your doctor when the law is fully implemented in 2014 (The Washington Post).

Boxer Makes Abortion Rights An Issue In Senate Race 
With her eye on voters sensitive to social issues, Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer turned the conversation in her race for reelection squarely to the heated topic of abortion rights Thursday, lining up celebrities, advocacy groups and fellow legislators to help make the case that her Republican rival Carly Fiorina’s stance is “a direct threat” to the rights of women in California and the nation (The Los Angeles Times).

Boxer Plays Abortion Card 
Sen. Barbara Boxer returned on Thursday to a tried and tested campaign strategy by painting her opponent as an extreme anti-abortion conservative who is out of touch with California voters. The three-term Democrat used a rally at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to claim that GOP nominee Carly Fiorina would become a sure Senate vote to overturn Roe v. Wade (Politico).

Breast Cancer Patients Struggle With Cost Of Treatment 
Paying for treatment is among the top concerns many Americans have about a cancer diagnosis. Most people say they cannot afford the cost of cancer care not covered by insurance plans, according to a survey conducted last year for Community Oncology Alliance, a nonprofit organization of cancer treatment providers. Only 37 percent said they could afford paying an extra $1,000 a month; for $2,500 a month, the figure dropped to 16 percent (Chicago Tribune).

Hispanics Living Longer Than Whites, Blacks. But Why? 
For the first time, the statisticians over at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figured out how to estimate the life expectancy of Hispanics in this country. And, it turns out, Hispanics born recently can expect to live longer than either whites or blacks (NPR).

CDC: 1 In 22 Blacks Will Get HIV 
Health officials estimate that 1 in 22 black Americans will be diagnosed with the AIDS virus in their lifetime — more than twice the risk for Hispanics and eight times that of whites (USA Today).

F.D.A. Vows To Revoke Approval Of Device 
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it would rescind the approval of a patch for injured knees that it granted in error in 2008 after being unduly pressured by four New Jersey congressmen and its own commissioner (The New York Times).

FDA To Revoke Knee-Device Approval, Saying It Erred 
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said it planned to revoke a medical-device company’s right to sell a knee implant called Menaflex after an unprecedented yearlong review concluded the agency erred in allowing it on the market (The Wall Street Journal).

People Are Suing Hospitals For Malpractice More Frequently, Report Finds 
The pace of malpractice claims against hospitals is picking up, according to a recent report from Aon Risk Solutions and the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management. Earlier in the decade, growth in the frequency of claims declined for several years in a row, down to a 1.81% increase for incidents occurring in 2006. The pace has now ticked up for the past three years, to 1.95% for incidents occurring last year, the report says (The Wall Street Journal).

CVS Will Pay Record Fine Over Sale Of Drug 
The nation’s largest pharmacy chain will pay a record fine for illegally selling large amounts of a key methamphetamine ingredient to criminal traffickers, a problem that prosecutors say led to a surge in production of the widely abused drug in California (Los Angeles Times).

Quinn Sinks Plan To Require Paid Sick Leave 
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn scuttled an effort to require all employers in New York City to provide workers with paid sick leave, spurning her usual liberal allies to side with the business community (The Wall Street Journal).

Digital Records Spot Side Effects 
Computerized patient records could be used to improve lax reporting of serious drug side effects, the results of a small study suggest (The Wall Street Journal).

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