Taking the Long View: Story Ideas After the Supreme Court’s Health Reform Decision

It’s been said that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will keep legions of lawyers employed for years to come. The same could be said for health reporters, political writers, bloggers, editorialists, talk show bookers, TV news producers and documentary makers.

Rather than dousing controversy about the health reform law, the 5-4 decision has sparked more controversy. The justices settled some questions about the ACA (e.g. the “penalty fee” is a tax for constitutionality purposes), but dozens of questions remain – which media audiences will want answered.

For instance: We know that states can opt in or opt out of the law’s Medicaid expansion. But what are the downstream consequences of one choice vs. the other? Could safety net hospitals suffer? What about patients’ access to care? In states that opt out, will more money flow to education and other needs?

A state can run its own exchange or have the federal government do it. If the feds step in, will we see head-butting between federal and state agencies? Or will the states work in partnership with the federally-run exchanges?

What effect could the Supreme Court decision have on pharmaceutical companies, medical device makers, nursing homes, home care agencies?

To address these questions and more, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a July 19 briefing for reporters. Panelists were: Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy; Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute; Marilyn Werber Serafini, Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow at Kaiser Health News; and John Reichard, editor of CQ Healthbeat. John Lumpkin, MD, of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.

Transcript

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