Supreme Court Agrees to Hear ACA Validity Case

Today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a third major Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) case. The Court will consider whether a legislative change to the ACA’s individual mandate rendered the landmark law unconstitutional. Learn more from a recent Hall Render article here.

By granting petitions from democratic state officials and the House of Representatives to hear this case, the fate of the ACA will be examined right in the midst of the 2020 presidential election. It was not specified when the Court would hear the case but, likely, arguments would be held in the fall and a decision would come in spring or summer 2021.

Vaping Flavors Up in Smoke? House Passes Ban

On Friday, the House passed a bill (H.R. 2339) to ban popular flavored tobacco as well as vaping products. The measure would impose a tax on e-cigarettes similar to the current tax on traditional cigarettes and bar companies from selling e-cigarette or tobacco products with popular flavors such as mint and menthol. It would also require tobacco advertisements to include graphic warnings. Many public health groups applauded this as a major step in curbing youth tobacco and e-cigarette use. However, the measure has a very small chance of passing in the Senate.

FTC, Pennsylvania Challenge Hospital Merger

The Federal Trade Commission and the state of Pennsylvania are seeking to block a merger between two major Pennsylvania hospital systems, Jefferson Health and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network. As the two leading providers of inpatient general acute services and inpatient acute rehabilitation services in two Pennsylvania counties, the antitrust enforcers state the deal will stifle health care competition.

Hall Render’s Antitrust group will continue to monitor with this could mean for health care providers.

Health-Related Bills Introduced This Week

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 6005 to amend Title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to increase the transparency of group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage by removing gag clauses on price and quality information.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) introduced H.R. 6004 to amend Title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a grant program for purposes of facilitating state efforts to establish or maintain all-payer claims databases.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced S. 3353 to amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for extended months of Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced S. 3343 to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide enhanced security for the medical supply chain.

The Week Ahead

  • Congress will be consumed with efforts to address the coronavirus this week. There are several hearings that will discuss the U.S. response to the disease. For example, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the coronavirus outbreak. The briefing will be an “opportunity to hear from officials” from HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and the FDA on steps being taken by local, state and federal health officials.
  • On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Combating an Epidemic: Legislation to Help Patients with Substance Use Disorders.”
  • Also on Tuesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing, “The Silver Tsunami: Is VA Ready?”