Tagged Courts

Oregon Releases People Found Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity More Quickly Than Nearly Every Other State

A ProPublica investigation shines a light on Oregon’s unique process of reviewing the cases of defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity. About 35 percent of the people in that category were charged with new crimes within three years of being freed by state officials.

Local Ties In Suit Against Opioid Manufacturer Makes Case Personal For New Jersey Officials

The Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that New Jersey says minimized the risks of opioid addiction in its marketing messages is based in the state. “It is especially troubling that so much of the alleged misconduct took place right here in our own backyard,”said Gurbir Grewal, the New Jersey attorney general, at a news conference announcing the legal action. “New Jersey’s pharmaceutical industry is the envy of the world, with a long history of developing vital, lifesaving drugs. But we cannot turn a blind eye when a New Jersey company like Janssen violates our laws and threatens the lives of our residents.” Meanwhile, Naloxone can be a lifesaving drug, but not all pharmacies are on board with offering it. News on the epidemic comes out of Oregon, Kansas, New Hampshire and California, as well.

Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Split Decision On Health Care

Voters on Election Day gave control of the U.S. House to the Democrats but kept the U.S. Senate Republican. That will mean Republicans will no longer be able to pursue partisan changes to the Affordable Care Act or Medicare. But it also may mean that not much else will get done that does not have broad bipartisan support.

Then the day after the election, the Trump administration issued rules aimed at pleasing its anti-abortion backers. One would make it easier for employers to exclude birth control as a benefit in their insurance plans. The other would require health plans on the ACA exchanges that offer abortion as a covered service to bill consumers separately for that coverage.

This week’s panelists for KHN’s “What the Health?” are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Joanne Kenen of Politico.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • The Trump administration’s new contraception coverage rule comes after an earlier, stricter regulation was blocked by federal courts.
  • The insurance bills that the Trump administration is now requiring marketplace plans to send to customers for abortion coverage will be for such a small amount of money that they could become a nuisance and may persuade insurers to give up on the benefit.
  • House Democrats, when they take control in January, say they want to move legislation that will allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. But fiscal experts say that may not have a big impact on costs unless federal officials are willing to limit the number of drugs that Medicare covers.
  • It appears that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are interested in doing something to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. The issue, however, may fall to the back of the line given all the more pressing issues that Congress will face.
  • One of the big winners Tuesday was Medicaid. Three states approved expanding their programs, and in several other states new governors are interested in advancing legislation that would expand Medicaid.

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

Julie Rovner: Kaiser Health News’ “Hello? It’s I, Robot, And Have I Got An Insurance Plan For You!” by Barbara Feder Ostrov

Margot Sanger-Katz: Stat News’ “Life Span Has Little to Do With Genes, Analysis of Large Ancestry Database Shows,” by Sharon Begley

Joanne Kenen: The Washington Post’s “How Science Fared in the Midterm Elections,” by Ben Guarino and Sarah Kaplan

Rebecca Adams: The New Yorker’s “Why Doctors Hate Their Computers,” by Atul Gawande

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunesStitcher or Google Play.

California’s Top Lawyer Sees Election Win As Mandate To Sustain Trump Resistance

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has cemented his role as one of the nation’s top defenders of the Affordable Care Act, filing multiple lawsuits in the past two years to uphold key protections of the law and often clashing with the Trump administration.

Voters this week gave Becerra a clear mandate to continue that work, he said.

“Californians had a chance to register their opinion on the work that I’ve done,” Becerra told California Healthline on Wednesday, the day after voters overwhelmingly elected him to the state’s top law enforcement job — 61 percent to 39 percent over Republican Steven Bailey.

“My sense is there’s a pretty clear signal.”

Becerra has filed 44 legal challenges against the Trump administration in less than two years on cases involving immigration, birth control, health care, transgender rights, net neutrality, climate change and other issues.

Four of the lawsuits involve former President Barack Obama’s signature achievement, the 2010 federal health care law, which Trump and fellow Republicans have sought to dismantle. In one key case, Becerra is leading more than a dozen other Democratic attorneys general against a Texas-led GOP lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.

“We’re defending health care protections and rights not just for the 40 million Californians, but for the 320 million Americans in the country, because the Trump administration elected to back out of their role in defending a federal statute,” Becerra said. “We stepped in and are now the lead state defending the Affordable Care Act. That’s a big undertaking.”

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Becerra to the top post at the state Department of Justice in December 2016 after Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate. So, Tuesday’s election was the first time that the 60-year-old Democrat, who previously served in Congress, won a statewide office.

Bailey had criticized Becerra for fighting Washington instead of focusing on California issues — not an argument that resonated with voters in a state that prides itself as the head of Trump resistance.

Becerra said he has sought to spotlight health care at the state Justice Department, creating a new “strike force” of attorneys who have expertise in health care issues.

Becerra, the son of Mexican immigrants, said he also is ready to defend California should state lawmakers decide to extend health care coverage to unauthorized immigrant adults (children already are eligible). That could spur a legal challenge and would not likely be supported by the Trump administration.

The state’s estimated 1.8 million unauthorized immigrants make up nearly 60 percent of the state’s remaining uninsured residents. Covering them is key to Democratic leaders’ goal of insuring all Californians.

Aside from tangling with Trump, Becerra also has taken on both the hospital and pharmaceutical industries.

This year, he filed a lawsuit against Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in Northern California, for anti-competitive practices, and he is investigating pharmaceutical manufacturers and the three largest opioid distributors over unlawful practices. In 2017, Becerra joined a federal lawsuit that charges six makers of generic drugs with an illegal conspiracy to increase prices for an antibiotic and a diabetes medication. All three cases are pending.

In the Sutter Health lawsuit, Becerra said evidence will show that the hospital chain overcharged for services. While he has made anti-competitiveness a priority, he would not say whether he planned similar lawsuits against other hospitals. But he didn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to be vigilant to make sure that everyone follows the law and does what they’re supposed to,” Becerra said. “If we find that there are people who are acting anti-competitively or overpricing or trying to take advantage of California health care consumers, we’ll be prepared to act.”

All of the investigations and litigation, he said, are slow-moving. He compared the process to a football game in which most of the plays yield small gains, with an endgame in sight.

“We’re looking to score some touchdowns,” he said.


This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Administration Finalizes Rule Allowing Moral And Religious Exemptions For Health Law’s Birth Control Mandate

The policy change is much more narrow than a previous proposed rule that is now stuck in the courts, and applies mainly to religious organizations, nonprofits and small businesses. Advocates, however, are already vowing to fight the rule in court.

Ark. Planned Parenthood Says It’s Now In Compliance With Disputed Abortion Pill Law

After losing its challenge in court, Planned Parenthood says it has contracted with a physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital, so is now in compliance with a new Arkansas law requiring such a partnership in order to provide abortion pills. Meanwhile, in Texas, a court heard arguments in Texas’ efforts to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure.