Cuccinelli Seeks Quick Review of Health Law

SPEEDY DECISION:  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case against the federal health care reform law immediately instead of waiting for an appellate court to rule. Citing the costs of implementing a law that may be declared unconstitutional, Cuccinelli said that "prompt resolution of this issue is in everyone's best interest," according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch . The federal Department of Justice responded that the federal appeals court should hear the case first.  U.S. District Judge Henrey E. Hudson declared the federal law's mandate that individuals buy health insurance unconstitutional in December.

SHIRKING EXCHANGES:  Republican governors last week threatened to give up on creating health insurance exchanges, unless the federal government offers more flexibility under the Affordable Care Act. The governors wrote in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that unless modified, the new law "will force our health care system down a path sure to lead to higher costs and the disruption or discontinuation of millions of Americans' insurance plans."  The governors asked for the authority to choose benefit packages that meet the needs of their citizens; to decide which insurers can offer their products; and to move non-disabled Medicaid beneficiaries into the exchanges for their insurance coverage. "While we hope for your endorsement, if you do not agree, we will move forward with our own efforts regardless and HHS should begin making plans to run exchanges under its own auspices," 21 of the nation's 29 GOP governors wrote.

WAYS TO CUT MEDICAID:  Sebelius sent the nation's governors a letter of her own last week, outlining ways they could cut their crushing Medicaid budgets without violating prohibitions in the new health care law. But she did not answer requests from Arizona and other states for permission to cut their rolls. Instead, she said she was reviewing what legal authority, if any, she had to grant those requests. Her suggestions for reducing Medicaid costs: limit optional benefits, move to managed care plans, purchase drugs more efficiently and eliminate fraud and abuse.
SINGLE-PAYER LIVES ON:  Vermont 's new Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin has unveiled a bill that sets a four-year target for establishing a so-called "single payer" health care system in the state, the Burlington Free Press reported . As Stateline reported in December, Shumlin believes the model-long favored by liberals but never seriously considered by Congress for national reform-will help Vermont contain its health care costs. 

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