The latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, explained

July 10, 2019, VOX, Liz Zhou - The Affordable Care Act is being challenged in the courts yet again - and a Fifth Circuit decision could help determine whether that fight winds up going any further. On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case of Texas v. Azar, a suit brought by 18 state attorneys general - and endorsed by President Donald Trump’s administration - that marks the latest legal challenge to the ACA. The hearing comes in the wake of a 2018 decision by District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, who determined that the ACA is unconstitutional now that Congress has rolled back the penalty requiring everyone who did not carry health insurance to pay a fine. Legal experts on both sides of the aisle have argued that O’Connor’s reasoning was faulty and likely to be overturned by the Fifth Circuit. Questions from two of the three judges hearing the case on Tuesday, however, indicated that they, too, were interested in gauging the constitutionality of the law as it stands.

Will a Court Force Mississippi to Change on Mental Health?

June 10, 2019, The Jackson Free Press, Ashton Pittman - Tyler Haire spent his 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th birthdays in the Calhoun County jail in Pittsboro, Miss. Sometimes, he would throw tantrums and ask to be sent to solitary confinement where he could sleep. He would tell his jailers about the voices he heard or the visions of aliens he saw. Sometimes, he would lie on a mattress and watch the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons he loved. Other times, he would color pictures of dragons to give to the deputies. On other days, friends of his fathers who were in the jail would beat him as a favor, because his dad had not forgiven him for the event that landed him in that jail in the first place. At age 16 on Nov. 17, 2012, Haire HAD called 911 after he attacked his father’s girlfriend with a knife, though not fatally.

Trump unveils plan to help kidney patients in push to lower health costs

July 10, 2019, The Hill, Jessie Hellmann - President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that he says would improve the lives of patients with kidney disease while lowering health care costs. Kidney disease, the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, makes up 20 percent of Medicare’s payments to providers per year, and the proposal is expected to save about $4.2 billion annually. The order signed by Trump would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to revamp a system that currently favors more expensive treatment in commercial dialysis centers.

New tax-free accounts allow Mississippians with disabilities to save without the risk of losing ben

July 8, 2019, Mississippi Today, Grace Marion -  For the first time, Mississippians with disabilities will now be able to work and save money without losing their benefits under the state’s Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, which establishes the use of savings programs for qualifying individuals. “A person like my daughter with a disability can only have $4,000 to keep the Medicaid assistance that she has,” disability rights and elder law attorney Richard Courtney said. Courtney explains that people receiving Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Income and/or participating in programs like Medicaid or Medicare have limits placed on their assets; if they pass the limits, their benefits are suspended. Those limits in many cases can be as low as $2,000.

With Rural Health Care Stretched Thin, More Patients Turn To Telehealth

July 8, 2019, NPR, Patti Neighmond - Telehealth turned Jill Hill’s life around. The 63-year-old lives on the edge of rural Grass Valley, an old mining town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She was devastated after her husband Dennis passed away in the fall of 2014 after a long series of medical and financial setbacks. “I was grief-stricken and my self-esteem was down,” Hill remembers. “I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t brush my hair. I was isolated. I just kind of locked myself in the bedroom.” Hill says knew she needed therapy to deal with her deepening depression. But the main health center in her rural town had just two therapists. Hill was told she’d only be able to see a therapist once a month.

Affordable Care Act gears up for momentous test in court

July 8, 2019, CNN, Joan Biskupic -  Nearly a decade after President Barack Obama signed the legislation, and after it twice survived challenges at the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act faces a momentous test in a New Orleans courtroom this week. Millions of Americans, including those with cancer, diabetes and other chronic conditions, cannot be denied coverage because of the ACA’s sweeping insurance regulations. With this fresh case, destined to climax at the Supreme Court yet again, the stakes for the continued existence of the ACA are as high as ever. The case, to be heard Tuesday by a three-judge appeals court panel, was initiated by Texas and other Republican-led states. Joined now fully by the Department of Justice, they want the ACA declared unconstitutional. At an earlier stage of this litigation, the Trump administration had said only certain parts of the law, tied to the individual insurance requirement, should be struck down.