The Supreme Court approved petitions last week to hear arguments in two cases challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare. One of the issues that will be argued before the justices of the high court is the legality of the currently operating Medicaid scheme.
Admittedly, the question is a very “narrow” one, but it will have far-reaching impact on the future of federalism and on the power of Congress to raise and spend revenue.
In one of the cases filed against President Obama’s pet project, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected a similar claim against provisions of Medicaid. In that suit, filed by the Attorneys General of the states of Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Nebraska, the court held that the expansion of the program made under provisions of ObamaCare was constitutional.
The essence of the states’ argument is that the use of the existing Medicaid arrangement to provide expanded healthcare coverage to citizens of the states is unduly burdensome on the governments of those states. ObamaCare mandates that the states cover 100 percent of the administrative expenses associated with implementing the new Medicaid policies set out in ObamaCare.
Catholics who believe the federal government should not be able to compel healthcare providers to perform abortions “have this conscience thing” that they really need to overcome, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Washington Post recently. Otherwise, she said, women “could die” from a lack of access to abortion services.
Pelosi made those remarks in response to a question from the Post concerning her comments on the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), a bill that passed the House of Representatives in October. That bill was itself a response to an ObamaCare mandate “that would require all private health plans to cover sterilizations and contraceptives, including those that cause abortion, under the broad definition of ‘preventive services,’ ” explains former Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez in a Townhall.com column. Beauprez continues:
The United Kingdom has announced that it will continue to use airport body scanners and backscatter X-ray scanners and will not permit passengers to opt out of the machines if they are chosen for further screening — despite reports of the potential dangers posed by radiation from the machines. The announcement follows the European Commission’s adoption of strict new guidelines regarding the limited use of the body scanners and a full ban of the backscatter X-ray scanners pending further studies.
Britain's Daily Mail reported on November 21 that 13-year-old Lucy Hinks has been left debilitated, likely from injections of the Cervarix cervical cancer vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline’s version of Gardasil, which is manufactured by Merck. She was vaccinated along with her classmates at Wigton's Nelson Thomlinson School in Cumbria. The teenager — who has not opened her eyes in seven weeks, and can neither walk nor talk — requires constant care, and sleeps 23 hours a day. Her mother, Pauline, said, “'I'd not wish what we've been through on anyone. I've not seen the whites of Lucy's eyes for weeks and nobody can tell us when it will turn. I could put up with the constant sleep. I believe her body needs it. But it's the fact that to me she's in a waking coma, with no treatment.” Lucy's father, Steve, spends his time scouring the Internet for cures.
Mrs. Hinks added, “I have regrets. But it's no good having them because you can't change what we've got. Hindsight is a marvellous thing.”
The Hinks family, of Port Carlisle, is now encouraging parents to get as much information as possible before submitting to the vaccination program they believe caused their daughter’s illness. British doctors are 95 percent sure her diagnosis is ME[Myalgic Encephalomyelitis]/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Tests have ruled out a brain tumor or glandular fever, and Lucy’s pediatrician is investigating links to the vaccine.
CNS News reports that four key Republican leaders in the Senate sent a letter on Friday to Attorney General Eric Holder stating that the Department of Justice had not been forthcoming in requests for information about the extent of the involvement of then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan relating to President Obama’s healthcare legislation. The letter — from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (Iowa), and Judiciary Committee member Mike Lee (Utah) — also declared that the testimony given by Holder was “belied by the facts.”
Salient parts of the letter state:
Unfortunately, your Department has rejected all Congressional oversight requests for information about her [Kagan's] role in the Obama Administration's defense of this law. You recently told the Senate, incredibly, that you were not even aware of Congressional requests on this topic, and that your Department handled her duties as relates to such matters in a way that is belied by the facts, namely that you physically removed her from all meetings discussing litigation.
The four Senators urged the Attorney General to comply with requests that have been submitted to the Justice Department by Congress seeking information about Kagan's involvement with the healthcare legislation while she was Solicitor General, the second-ranking attorney in the Department of Justice.
Though the Transportation Security Administration promised the U.S. Senate it would conduct further studies into the safety of radiation-firing body scanners used at airports nationwide, it has since backed away from that promise. TSA head John Pistole is now claiming that a previously completed Inspector General’s report validates his assertions that the machines are not harmful.
On November 2, Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security committee that the TSA would be furthering independent research into the safety risks associated with the full-body scanners currently in use. Appearing at another congressional hearing on November 9, however, he reneged on that promise, saying that earlier independent studies have already proven the safety of the technology. “I am concerned that there’s a perception that they’re not as safe as they could be,” he asserted.
JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for November 21-27, 2011.
Citing the uncertain economy and the scarcity of needed capital, the company that launched the first government funded embryonic stem-cell trials announced that it is halting further stem-cell research and will lay off nearly 40 percent of its staff. The California-based Geron Corp., which began the first FDA-approved stem-cell trials in 2010, said that it would shift its focus to cancer research.
Explaining what he insisted was purely a financial decision, Geron Chief Executive John Scarlett told the Wall Street Journal that the “time frame for meaningful value inflection [for stem-cell programs] would occur substantially further in the future than for our oncology products.” Suspension of Geron’s research, which involved patients with spinal cord injuries, still leaves at least two other companies invested in the controversial project.
Pro-life activists have been vocal in their opposition to the research because it requires the destruction of human embryos. While it has received the lion’s share of attention from the scientific community and the media, embryonic stem-cell therapy “has yet to produce any treatments or cures,” reported Baptist Press News. “By contrast, pro-lifers say, research using non-embryonic forms of stem cells — such as adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells — has been far more promising. Adult stem cells — found throughout the body — have produced 73 medical treatments, according to a tally by the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics. In induced pluripotent stem cells, researchers reprogram adult skin cells into stem cells that have virtually the identical properties of embryonic ones.”
Activists are fuming after GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an emergency rule to implement ObamaCare in the state and refused to return federal grant money provided under the scheme.
Critics are calling the actions a “betrayal” of his supporters and the Tea Party, though some defenders are saying he has merely been acting on bad advice. Democrats, meanwhile, are demanding that Walker keep the funds and continue to implement Obama’s controversial healthcare plan.
Some Republican legislators fought hard to kill AB 210, a bill that would have brought Wisconsin into compliance with ObamaCare even as it remains under assault in court for being unconstitutional. And GOP state Sen. Frank Lasee ensured that the legislation died in the Senate Committee on Insurance and Housing he chairs.
“My office reached out to Gov. Walker approximately two weeks ago in a sincere effort to discuss the many reasons for killing AB 210,” Sen. Lasee said in a statement released on November 14. “We also hoped to broach the hazard of the $49 million in federal ‘Early Innovator Grant’ funds that the governor accepted in February of this year. Regrettably, we were rebuffed.”
After nominating Donald Berwick as head of Medicare and Medicaid, President Obama has now nominated Henry Aaron as head of the Social Security Advisory Board, and they are both proponents of healthcare rationing. Berwick, who Obama appointed through executive measures, circumventing the conventional Senate confirmation, has stated, "The decision is not whether or now we will ration care…. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly."
Henry Aaron, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, harbors sentiments on the issue that are arguably even more extreme, which is evident in his comments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a U.S. government agency established in 2010 by sections of Obama’s healthcare overhaul, has the explicit task of curtailing the rate of growth in Medicare expenditures. Section 4303 of the Affordable Care Act grants the IPAB an unbounded authority to develop proposals to cut Medicare costs, which become law unless Congress acts to produce alternative cost-saving proposals that would save at least as much as the IPAB proposes.