Good morning ... Situational awareness: All eyes today are on Judge James Boasberg, who has said he’d rule on Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirements before the end of the month. Unless Boasberg stops them, the new rules are slated to take effect Sunday.
Abortion rights are in the balance with Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement from the Supreme Court, but most voters want the high court to keep abortion legal, according to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The survey was conducted before Kennedy announced his retirement.
Why it matters: The Supreme Court isn't responsive to public opinion in the same way the elected branches are, but it does often try not to get too far ahead of public opinion — especially under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, who's known for his concern for the court's institutional standing.
Between the lines: Public support for abortion rights helps explain why a post-Kennedy court is likely to chip away at abortion rights incrementally, rather than immediately taking on Roe v. Wade.
Go deeper: This isn't really about health care, but The New York Times has a good story on the family connections and not-so-subtle lobbying the White House deployed to push Kennedy toward the exit.
Pharmacy stocks took a beating yesterday after Amazon formalized its move into their industry, announcing that it will buy the online pharmacy PillPack.
Threat level: Picking up a prescription is about as close as the health care system ever gets to a traditional retailer-consumer interaction. That's part of the reason it has seemed like such a natural fit for Amazon, which has already cannibalized a lot of the other shopping people do at places like CVS and Walgreens.
Vox and Kaiser Health News pull back the curtain on yet another way hospitals and insurers stick patients with expensive and surprising bills: trauma fees.
How it works: These fees were initially intended to cover the cost of having a trauma unit on call at all times, which is an expensive proposition. When ambulance EMTs radio ahead that they’re bringing in a trauma patient, those teams activate.
Yes, but: Vox and Kaiser tracked down multiple patients who were charged thousands of dollars in trauma fees even though they weren’t actually treated for trauma. One family got an $18,000 bill after a hospital told them their baby didn’t need any treatment at all.
The other side: “We are the trauma center for a very large, very densely populated area. We deal with so many traumas in this city — car accidents, mass shootings, multiple vehicle collisions,” one hospital told Vox. “It’s expensive to prepare for that.”
More people are dying at home, rather than in a hospital, and end-of-life health care spending may not be as wasteful as we once thought, according to a pair of new studies.
More people are dying at home. The number of Medicare beneficiaries who died at home or in their community rose by about 10 percentage points from 2000 to 2015, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Defining "wasteful" spending: A separate study, published in Science, challenges the conventional wisdom about wasteful spending at the end of patients' lives.
This is a wild one: Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill yesterday that bars local governments from taxing soda and sugary drinks.
Why now: Because several California cities were passing soda taxes, and the industry didn't like it.
The intrigue: The bill to ban soda taxes was first introduced less than a week ago, and state lawmakers say they were "blackmailed" by the beverage industry.
Quick take: The soda industry's initiative might be off the ballot, but the proposal to break California up into three smaller states is still on there. California, it might be too easy to get things on your ballot.
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