What We're Reading: ACA in Court; Legislators Deliberate Healthcare; Telehealth in Rural Areas

July 8, 2019

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit backed by the Trump administration seeking to reverse the Affordable Care Act (ACA); legislators return from a holiday break to try and reach an agreement on healthcare cost issues; a growing number of Americans in rural areas are turning to telehealth appointments amid hospital closings and a shortage of local primary care doctors, specialists, and other providers.

Court of Appeals to Hear ACA Arguments

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit backed by the Trump administration seeking to reverse the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law is being defended by a coalition of Democratic states in the wake of a lower court ruling that said the entire ACA is unconstitutional because of the repeal of the individual mandate. If the circuit court upholds the ACA, many legal experts think the Supreme Court will decline to hear an appeal by the Republican-led states seeking to overturn it since the justices have upheld the law twice before, The Washington Post reported.

House, Senate Tackle Non-ACA Healthcare, Drug Issues

While the future of the ACA is argued in a New Orleans courthouse, legislators return from a holiday break to the Senate and House to try and reach agreement on ending surprise medical bills, curb drug prices, and limit prescription co-pays for people with Medicare. The Associated Press reported that law makers fear a 2020 backlash if nothing materializes after their public commotion over high prices; in addition, President Donald Trump last week promised an executive order that would enable the United States to pay no more than the lowest amount paid by other nations or companies.

Telehealth Grows in Rural Areas, Although High-Speed Access Still Problematic

A growing number of Americans in rural areas are turning to telehealth appointments amid hospital closings and a shortage of local primary care doctors, specialists, and other providers, reported NPR, which profiled a California clinic that offers consultations in behavioral health, psychiatry, cardiology, nephrology, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, and more. But high-speed internet connections that enable these telehealth visits, or long-distance doctor-to-doctor consultations, is still an access problem for some.