First Edition: June 18, 2012 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Today’s headlines include reports on the upcoming Supreme Court health law decision and the politics of health policy. Kaiser Health News: Uninsured And Unaware Of Supreme Court Case Against Health LawReporting for Kaiser Health News, and working in collaboration with The Tennessean and The New Republic, Alec MacGillis writes: “As Robin Layman, a mother of two who has major health troubles but no insurance, arrived at a free clinic here, she had a big personal stake in the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the new national health care law. Not that she realized that. ‘What new law?’ she said. ‘I’ve not heard anything about that'” (MacGillis, 6/17). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Uncertainty Over Law Casts Shadow Over Health Care InnovationsKaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: “The health care law placed the force and money of the federal government behind a decade’s worth of ideas on how to improve patient care and change the ways doctors and hospitals function. While this part of the health care law is at the periphery of the Supreme Court challenge, these changes could be halted if the court throws out the entire law, and some experts say they might be hobbled even if the justices excise just parts of the Affordable Care Act” (Rau, 6/17). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: California Bullish On Health Exchange – No Matter WhatCapital Public Radio’s Pauline Bartolone, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: “Many states have done nothing to implement the health overhaul law, saying they’ll wait and see how the Supreme Court rules. Not California. The country’s most populous state got out in front first on implementing the law, and it hasn’t slowed down in recent weeks as the rest of the country waits to hear from the High Court” (Bartolone, 6/15). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Different Takes: A Status Check On State-Based ExchangesKaiser Health News recently checked in with three states actively pursuing a state-based exchange. Commentaries follow from Rhode Island, Utah and Maryland. A common theme emerged: No matter how the court rules, change is not going to stop. Read commentaries from Christopher F. Koller, Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner; Patty Conner, Utah’s exchange director; and Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy headlines, including reports about the partisan rhetoric and SCOTUS speculation (6/17); Ginsburg’s hint about what’s been happening at the Supreme Court (6/17); Catholic hospitals’ rejection of the administration’s contraception compromise (6/16); how the court’s decision could impact state Medicaid programs (6/16); and the announced departure of Steve Larson from the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (6/15).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Republicans Have No Plans To Seek Quick Replacement Of Health Care Law After Court RulingCongressional Republicans intend to seek quick repeal of any parts of the health care law that survive a widely anticipated Supreme Court ruling, but don’t plan to push replacement measures until after the fall elections or perhaps 2013. Instead, GOP lawmakers cite recent announcements that some insurance companies will retain a few of the law’s higher-profile provisions as evidence that quick legislative action is not essential. Those are steps that officials say Republicans quietly urged in private conversations with the industry (6/18).The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: Q &A: Supreme Court’s Decision On Obama’s Health Care Law Unlikely To Be The Last WordSome are already anticipating the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Barack Obama’s health care law as the “decision of the century.” But the justices are unlikely to have the last word on America’s tangled efforts to address health care woes. The problems of high medical costs, widespread waste, and tens of millions of people without insurance will require Congress and the president to keep looking for answers, whether or not the Affordable Care Act passes the test of constitutionality (Sherman and Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/16).Politico: Media Preps For Health Care RulingIf you thought the Supreme Court’s recent hearings on President Barack Obama’s health care plan drew a lot of media coverage, just wait for the ruling. With the high court set to hand down its opinion on the Affordable Care Act some time before the end of the month, the major television networks and news outlets are standing by on call, ready to dispatch teams of reporters, analysts, and cameras to the courthouse to air special reports on what could be a landmark decision with major implications for the presidential contest (Byers, 6/18).Politico: Bloggers Fret Over SCOTUS, KennedyMany anxious conservative activists gathered at the annual RightOnline bloggers conference this weekend expressed fear that the Supreme Court is going to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care plan – and some worried that Justice Anthony Kennedy will provide the swing vote to do so (Mak, 6/17).The Wall Street Journal: Romney Embraces Hill GOPThe moves by Mr. Romney defy fears among some conservatives that he would tack to the center after clinching enough delegates for the Republican presidential nomination. Instead, Mr. Romney is identifying himself with Mr. Ryan’s plans to rein in the size and scope of government—and he appears to be shrugging off the political risks of embracing its measures to curb the growth of Medicare and other safety-net programs (Hook, 6/17).The Washington Post’s Fact Checker: Does Romney’s Assessment Of The Economic Impact Of Obama’s Health-Care Law Hold Up?FactCheck.org then weighed in when Romney had tweaked the language somewhat, but it also found it wanting, saying it was “a pure partisan fantasy” and “patently false and misleading.” With such harsh reviews, one would think that Romney might drop the assertion from his speeches. But now, a new iteration has appeared, so we will examine it (Kessler, 6/16).Politico: HHS Insurance Official Exits Over Personal IssueFrom the outside, the timing of the announcement that Department of Health and Human Services’ top insurance regulator is leaving for a job with UnitedHealthcare couldn’t have looked any worse. But health care experts from both parties who know the department’s inner workings are convinced that concerns about education, not health care, prompted the departure of Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Director Steve Larsen (Feder, 6/17).Chicago Tribune: AMA Wants Higher Medicare PaymentsDays before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the biggest overhaul of federal health care law in five decades, the nation’s most powerful group of physicians said Saturday it may push for major changes — should the reforms land again in the hands of Congress (Frost, 6/17).The Associated Press/Washington Post: What’s Behind Easing Health Care Costs? Some Say Economic Woes; Others See Long-Term ChangeHealth care spending has eased up recently, a welcome respite for government and corporate budgets. But why has it? And will relief last or are medical costs on a roller coaster, like gas prices? One explanation for the slowdown says it’s a temporary consequence of the recession and an economy that can’t seem to hit its stride. A more hopeful view says American medicine is moving from disjointed solo practice to teamwork models aimed at keeping patients healthier, and that’s a permanent change (6/18).Chicago Tribune: Contraceptive Mandate Stirs Local CatholicsThe Archdiocese of Chicago has not yet joined 43 other Roman Catholic institutions in suing the federal government over a mandate to pay for birth control, but local Catholic leaders are urging parishioners to speak out against what they view as a threat to religious freedom (Brachear, 6/17).Los Angeles Times: Ex-Consultant To California Mental Hospitals Criticized ElsewhereA consultant who led the troubled effort to overhaul California’s public psychiatric hospitals has played a lead role in federal reforms in at least five other states, where critics have raised similar concerns about cronyism and the quality of his work (Romney and Hoeffel, 6/17).The New York Times: Deal In Albany On Policing Abuse Of DisabledGov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a deal Sunday night to create a new state agency to police abuse and neglect of more than one million New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, mental illnesses and other conditions that put them at risk, state officials said Sunday (Hakim, 6/17).Los Angeles Times: Specifics Of California’s Budget CutsSpending on welfare, child care and home care for the elderly and disabled would be reduced but not by as much as Brown wanted. CalWORKs, the state welfare program, is facing the biggest hit at $428 million. … Cuts to state-supported child care would total $240 million. In-Home Supportive Services, which allow some elderly residents to avoid being moved into nursing homes, would be reduced by about $90 million. The cut means 3.6% fewer hours of care for beneficiaries (6/16).Los Angeles Times: Idaho Woman’s Case Marks A Key Abortion ChallengeThe case also marks the most significant constitutional legal challenge so far to so-called “fetal pain” statutes, adopted by Idaho and at least five other states. Such laws significantly shorten the window of time in which a woman can legally abort a fetus — in the case of Idaho, to 19 weeks (Murphy, 6/16).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.