Healthcare fight shifts to high court

It’s likely to do so, but which specific petitions the court agrees to hear remains an open question. The Justice Department asked the court to reverse a ruling that the coverage mandate is unconstitutional, while NFIB asked it to overturn part of the lower court’s decision that said the mandate can be struck down on its own, without invalidating the rest of the law. And the states want the Supreme Court to consider whether the healthcare law’s Medicaid expansion is unconstitutional, a point they lost in the lower court’s proceedings.

Outside the legal arena, stakeholders are anxiously awaiting an Institute of Medicine report on essential health benefits, which the IOM is slated to release Friday. HHS will use the report to help define the package of essential benefits that all healthcare plans will have to offer beginning in 2014, though the IOM is focused on the process that private insurers use to define their benefit packages rather than on making specific recommendations.

And America’s Health Insurance Plans is holding another big conference in Washington, this time focused on state issues. The conference runs Thursday and Friday.