Scholarly and News Articles on Health
Health and AG's: In the News
MD AG Asks to Freeze Health Insurance Rates (June 25, 2013)
Attorney General Doug Gansler has asked the his state insurance regulators to freeze any health insurance rate increases above 5 percent.
AG: Mississippi Governor Lacks Legal Authority to Run State Medicaid (June 25, 2013)
In a recent nonbinding legal opinion Mississippi Attorney General expressed that Governor Phil Bryant does not have the authority to operate the state’s Medicaid division by executive order.
Oregon AG Endorses Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill (June 25, 2013)
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has sent a letter to state lawmakers encouraging them to pass HB 3460 which would create a registry of state-licensed medical marijuana retailers. While the state is already home to an estimated 53,000 patients who can obtain medical marijuana, the established outlets are not regulated by the state.
North Carolina Attorney General Pushes for Tighter Control of Hospitals (Apr. 19, 2013)
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has urged the state legislature to pass bills urged the legislature to make hospital bills easier to understand and to control in aggressive bill-collecting practices. Cooper also wants hospitals to notify his office and the Federal Trade Commission before they acquire other hospitals or physician practices, a frequent occurrence both nationally and in North Carolina. Cooper’s proposals were incorporated into a bill that was introduced last month to require hospitals to publicly disclose their prices on their most common medical procedures.
Missouri AG Wants Clarification on Contraception Ruling (March 29, 2013)
After a federal judge struck down a Missouri law exempting moral objectors from mandatory birth control insurance coverage, state attorney general Chris Koster has asked the judge to clarify the intended scope of the decision. Koster’s office released a statement arguing that the ruling has created vague uncertainties for insurers and individuals.
13 AGs Ask HHS for Religious Exemptions in Affordable Care Act (March 28, 2013)
The state attorneys general of Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking that broaden the religious exemptions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
48 Attorneys General Send Letter to FDA Urging Action on Prescription Drugs (March 11, 2013)
The Attorneys General of forty-eight states have signed a letter prepared by the National Association of Attorneys General urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt design requirements for prescription pain medication. The attorneys general expressed concern of the possibility that generic versions of extended-release opioid prescription drugs and other non-tamper-resistant products may reach the market. The letter highlighted new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids that can be included in their design to deter abuse and thereby reduce misuse of the drugs and the possibility deadly consequences.
Florida AG Pam Bondi Opposes Governor on Health Care (Feb. 27, 2013)
After Florida Governor Rick Scott announced his support for temporarily expanding Medicaid, Attorney General Pam Bondi stated her opposition towards to the potential move. Scott has long been against the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” yet said he would be willing to try enlarging on a three-year trial period. Bondi is joined by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in opposing the idea. Select committees in the Florida House and Senate are set to meet on the issue in early March.
Maine Attorney General Warns of Medicare Scam (Jan. 22, 2013)
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills warned the public of a scam targeting Medicare recipients. Scammers have been contacting Medicare recipients claiming to be issuing new Medicare cards and asking for Medicare numbers and bank account information. Mills advised Mainers to “protect themselves by never giving any personal information to anyone over the phone," and to review their Medicare statements carefully and report any questionable calls to the Maine Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline.
38 State Attorneys General Announce Settlement with GlaxoSmithKline (Nov. 16, 2012)
Attorneys General of 38 states announced a $90 million settlement with GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceuticals company, over allegations of unlawful promotion of the diabetes drug Avandia. The lawsuit alleged that GlaxoSmithKline engaged in unfair and deceptive market practices when it misrepresented the effects Avandia would have on patients’ cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health. Under the settlement GlaxoSmithKline is prohibited from: making false, misleading or deceptive claims about diabetes drugs; making safety claims not supported by substantial evidence or substantial clinical experience; presenting favorable information of drugs that have been proven invalid; promoting drugs before they have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; or misusing statistics or otherwise misrepresenting the nature, applicability or significance of clinical trials. States included in the settlement are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
California Attorney General Investigating Hospital Mergers (September 15, 2012)
The Office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, is seeking information regarding the increasing concentration of medical providers and subsequent effects. Increased consolidation has raised the concern that the mergers of hospitals and physician groups could raise the costs of treatment. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act encourages medical providers to collaborate more on patient care in an effort to reduce costs, the increase in acquisitions raises the concern that consolidations will result in lesser competition in certain markets.
Maryland Attorney General Office Granted $717,000 in Health Care Reform Funds (September 12, 2012)
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office announced its receipt of $717,000 in federal grants to aid state residents make health care decisions. The grant is for the Health Education and Advocacy Unit of the Attorney General Office to start or bolster existing programs that allow consumers to have more influence on their health care decisions. The funds are part of the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight’s (CCIIO) Consumer Assistance Program Grants. To date, the Health Education and Advocacy Unit has received a total of $1.5 million in funds from CCIIO.
Florida Attorney General to Investigate Allegations of For-profit Hospital’s Needless Cardiac Surgeries (Aug. 8, 2012)
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, has announced that her office will begin an investigation into allegations made in a New York Times report that at hospitals owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the nation’s largest for-profit operator of health care facilities, some cardiac surgeries were unjustifiable between 2002 and 2010. These allegations came to light as a result of a 2010 internal review which showed that half of the invasive diagnostic procedures were done on patients “without significant heart disease.” The internal review was prompted by a registered nurse who was later fired allegedly in retaliation for bringing the procedures to light.
Minnesota AG Settles with Hospital Debt Collector for $2.6 Million (July 30, 2012)
Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, announced in a press release that her office had settled with Accretive Health Solutions a hospital billing and debt collection contractor over aggressive collection techniques. Swanson had brought suit against Accretive alleging that Accretive employees badgered patients over billing while still in hospital. As part of the settlement Accretive has agree to not do business in Minnesota for six years and has agreed to pay $2.6 million. Accretive does not admit to wrongdoing or liability and agreed to settle with Swanson to "prevent this matter from being a continued distraction."
West Virginia Attorney General Files Suit Against 14 out of State Drug Distributors (June 26, 2012)
In an effort to combat prescription drug abuse, West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced lawsuits against 14 out of state drug distributors over their supplying certain drug stores with drugs that were over prescribed for non-legitimate medical purposes. McGraw stated, "These out of state drug distributors have substantially contributed to, benefited from and gained improperly from prescription drug abuse in West Virginia… We now ask them to accept responsibility and pay for their illicit actions just as our office has done with others."
Minnesota Attorney General Seeks to Expand Suit Against Accretive Health (June 19, 2012)
Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, has moved to broaden the lawsuit against Accretive Health over aggressive hospital bill collection methods after more patients have come forward. The Chicago-based Accretive handles billing and collections for hospitals and health systems including Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis. Swanson released a report in April outlining the extent of the alleged aggressive practices done on behalf of Accretive employees in collecting past due hospital bills.
Minnesota Attorney General Issues Report on Aggressive Collection Tactics in Hospitals (April 26, 2012)
Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, released a report focusing on the practices of an Illinois medical debt collection company in Minnesota. Swanson had filed a lawsuit against Chicago-based Accretive Health Inc. in January asserting misuse of private patient information and creating “high-pressure, boiler room-style sales atmospheres” in which employees were coached to aggressively collect debt. Accretive has contracts with two Minnesota based hospitals. The allegations are detailed in a six volume report release by the Swanson’s office.
Minnesota’s Compliance Review of Fairview Health Services' Management Contracts with Accretive Health, Inc.
- Vol. 1 The Accretive Management Contracts
- Vol. 2 Culture Wars
- Vol. 3 The Attorney General Agreement
- Vol. 4 Privacy Violations
- Vol. 5 Violations of Federal and State Debt Collection Laws
- Vol. 6 Compliance Issues
Judge Orders Johnson and Johnson to Pay Arkansas $1.2 Billion in Medicaid Fraud Suit (April 11, 2012)
Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered Johnson and Johnson to pay Arkansas $1.2 billion after it was found that the company hid risks caused by an antipsychotic drug. The case was pursued by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniels in order to protect consumers from “fraud and abuse.” McDaniels called the decision a “big win” for Arkansas and was caused by “The companies put[ting] profits before people, and they are rightfully being held responsible for their actions.” The decision is one of the largest state fines recorded on a drug company
Attorneys General of Massachusetts and Virginia Discuss Healthcare Reform (February 9, 2012)
The Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley, and Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, have led a National Press Club Newsmaker debate on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Four questions concerning the ACA will be present to the Supreme Court for oral argument from March 26-28. The attorneys general discussed several aspects of the ACA including the insurance coverage mandate, the tax basis, the general welfare aspect, expansion of Medicaid, severability, the law’s provisions and other areas.
Eleven States and D.C. File Amicus Brief Supporting Health Reform Law (January 13, 2012)
The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have filed a joint amicus curiae brief supporting the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with the Supreme Court. The brief focused on the constitutionality of the minimum-coverage provision, commonly called the individual mandate, requiring non-exempt individuals to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. Four questions are before the Supreme Court with oral arguments scheduled for March 26th to March 28th.
Supreme Court Schedules Week of Health Care Arguments Brought by Attorneys General (December 19, 2011)
The Supreme Court on Monday announced the schedule for oral arguments concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Arguments will take place over three days from March 26th to the 28th. Four questions are being presented to the court: whether the minimum coverage provision is constitutional, whether the minimum coverage provision is severable, whether the suit brough to challenge the minimum coverage provision is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, and whether the Medicaid expansion provisions are constitutional.
Judge Rules Against FTC, State Action Doctrine Protects Georgia Hospital Merger (December 12, 2011)
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Dec. 9 that state action doctrine immunized the hospital merger of Phoebe Putney Health System and Palmyra Park Hospital in Albany, Georgia from antitrust laws. Together the hospitals control 86 percent of the relevant market. The FTC argued that the merger would "cause consumers and employers in the Albany region to pay dramatically higher rates for vital health care services, and will likely reduce the quality and choice of services available in the community as well." The hospitals did not dispute the monopoly charge but argued instead that they were immune under the state-action doctrine. Memorial was not a private hospital but operated by a regional hospital authority, which the Georgia legislature authorized in a 1941 law. Thus, the court ruled, the issue was whether the state authorized the action for policy reasons that one would reasonably anticipate had a foreseeable anticompetitive effect.
New Jersey Attorney General Approves Hospital Merger (December. 8, 2011)
New Jersey Attorney General, Paula T. Dow, announced the approval of the merger of St. Luke’s Hospital and Health Network and Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg. The owner of Easton Hospital, Community Health Systems, had objected to the merger claiming to have offered a better deal. The merger must still be approved by the New Jersey Superior Court before it can be finalized.
Supreme Court to Hear Healthcare Challenge Brought By Attorneys General (November 14, 2011)
The Supreme Court Order List issued Monday Morning included three petitions for certiorari concerning challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court has set a total of five and a half hours to hear three questions before the court: 1) Whether Congress had the power under Article I of the Constitution to enact the minimum coverage provision; 2) Whether the ACA must be invalidated in its entirety because it is nonseverable from the individual mandate that exceeds Congress’ limited and enumerated powers under the Constitution; and 3) Whether the suit brought by respondents to challenge the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, 26 U.S.C. 7421(a). To date three U.S. appellate courts have upheld the constitutionality of the individual and two have ruled it unconstitutional.
Justice Department Indicates it Will Appeal Directly to Supreme Court in AG Health Care Suit (September 27, 2011)
Justice Department spokeswoman, Tracey Schmaler, stated that the administration would not appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals en banc in Florida v. U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services, N.D. Fla. 3:10-cv-00091-RV-EMT (Jan. 31, 2011) No. 11-11021 (11th Cir. filed Mar. 9, 2011) and No. 11-11067, (11th Cir. filed Mar. 11, 2011). 26 states are challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate requiring every U.S. citizen to have health insurance within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The decision by the administration makes it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case in the next term.
Federal Court Dismisses Virginia AG’s Health-Care Lawsuit (September 8, 2011)
Three judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed a lawsuit by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, determining that Virginia lacked standing to sue. Cuccinelli filed suit against the federal government over the individual health insurance mandate portion of the new federal health-care laws. This lawsuit was separate from one filed by 26 other states. Cuccinelli argued that Virginia had standing to challenge the new law since it directly conflicted with a state law that prohibits requiring residents to purchase insurance. In a statement about the decision Cuccinelli said, “Our disappointment not only stems from the fact that the court ruled against us but also that the court did not even reach the merits on the key question of Virginia’s lawsuit — whether Congress has a power never before recognized in American history: the power to force one citizen to purchase a good or service from another citizen.” Cuccinelli says his office plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mississippi AG Wins $38 Million Judgment Against Drug Manufacturer (September 6, 2011)
A county judge awarded the state of Mississippi more than $38 million dollars as the result of lawsuit filed by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood against pharmaceutical manufacturer Sandoz Inc. In the lawsuit, Hood accused Sandoz of inflating the average wholesale prices of drugs, which resulted in inflated reimbursements to pharmacies by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. In a press release about the judgment Hood said, "Sandoz, with its greed for more profits, caused Mississippi to overpay on drug prescriptions and some of our neediest citizens were being denied health care due to cost overruns.” Under the terms of the judgment, Sandoz must pay the state $23,661,618 in compensation, $11,830,809 in punitive damages, and $2,699,000 in penalties.
Virginia AG Focuses Resources on Stopping Medicaid Fraud (September 6, 2011)
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office says they are cracking down on both Medicaid fraud and elder abuse. Cuccinelli has expanded the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by almost doubling the amount of employees working in the unit since 2010. According to Cuccinelli, his office is working with seniors groups and law enforcement as part of a joint effort known as “Triad” to educate seniors on elder abuse, as well as how to identify and report Medicaid fraud. In an interview Cuccinelli said, "We're not an accounting firm — this isn't about getting dollars. It's about stopping criminal activity and fraud and making sure that as many people in Virginia can trust the bill they get at their health-care providers, and that it isn't tainted by somebody stealing."
Washington AG has Authority to Challenge Health Care Law (September 1, 2011)
The Washington Supreme Court found in favor of Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, ruling that the City of Seattle cannot force McKenna to withdraw from a challenge to the Obama administration backed health care overhaul. The justices did, however, say the Governor may be able to intervene but declined to rule on that issue. In a statement about the ruling McKenna said, "It's important that the state's constitutionally-established, independently-elected Attorney General — whomever it may be — have the authority to protect the legal rights of the state and its people in the years to come.”
Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Cost Drivers, Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Cereal Facts: Evaluating the Nutrition Quality and Marketing of Children’s Cereals, Jennifer L. Harris, Marlene B. Schwartz, Kelly D. Brownell, Vishnudas Sarda, Megan E. Weinberg, Sarah Speers, Jackie Thomspon, Amy Ustjanauskas, Andrew Cheyne, Eliana, Bukofzer, Lori Dorfman, and Hannah Byrnes-Enoch
Cereal FACTS, presents a comprehensive and independent science-based evaluation of cereal company marketing to children and adolescents in 2008 through early 2009. This study was conducted by the Yale's Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity.
The Effect of Fast-Food Restaurants on Obesity, Janet Currie, Stefano DellaVigna, Enrico Moretti, and Vikram Pathani
Researchers at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that 9th grade students were more likely to be obese when their schools were within a tenth of a mile of a fast food restaurant.
Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity, Brennan Davis, PhD, and Christopher Carpenter, PhD
An additional study demonstrating that children who lived and went to school in close proximity to fast-food restaurants more likely to consume unhealthier diets and become overweight. The researchers recommend policy changes to limit the number of fast-food restaurants near schools.
Improving Laws and Legal Authorities for Obesity Prevention and Control, Jennifer Pomeranz and Lawrence O. Gostin
One of four papers that resulted from the 2008 National Summit on Legal Preparedness for Obesity Prevention and Control, this paper addresses gaps in laws pertaining to healthy lifestyles, places, and societies and presents applicable laws and legal authorities that can close those gaps.
A Legal Primer for the Obesity Prevention Movement, Seth E. Mermin, JD, MEd, and Samantha K. Graff, JD
With the goal of helping policymakers to avoid potential constitutional problems in the formulation of obesity policy, this paper outlines the legal principles most relevant to obesity policy: police power; allocation of federal power among federal, state, and local governments; freedom of speech; property rights, privacy, equal protection, and contract rights.
A Crisis in the Marketplace: How Food Marketing Contributes to Childhood Obesity and What Can Be Done, Jennifer L. Harris, Jennifer L. Pomeranz, Tim Lobstein, and Kelly D. Brownell
This article reviews existing knowledge of the impact of marketing and addresses the value of various legal, legislative, regulatory, and industry-based approaches to changing massively expanding food marketing practices that attempt to promote unhealthy foods by targeting children.
The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar Is Big Food?, Kelly D. Brownell and Kenneth E. Warner
A comparative analysis of the tobacco and food industries that finds significant similarities in the actions that these industries have taken in response to concern that their products cause harm.
Obesity—The New Frontier of Public Health Law, Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D., David M. Studdert, LL.B., Sc.D., M.P.H., and Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., J.D., M.P.H.
A review of the rationale for regulatory action to combat obesity that examines legal issues raised by initiatives to date and comments on the prospects for public health law in the area of obesity.
Legal and Public Health Considerations Affecting the Success, Reach, and Impact of Menu-Labeling Laws, Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, and Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
A discussion of the public health rationale the government’s legal authority for the enactment of menu-labelinglaws in restaurants, which concludes that the legislative climate surrounding menulabeling laws is currently positive and part of a larger effort to address issues of diet and obesity.
Annual Montana Hospital Surveys, Lawrence L. White, Jr., MHA, FACHE, Amanda L. Golbeck, Ph.D., and Emily Michalik River, M.Ed.
Annual report released in conjunction with Montana Attorneys General office surveying nonprofit hospitals in the state. The most recent survey includes questions on the hospitals' foundations and the specific community benefits defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Report on Physician Compensation and Arrangements, Office of New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.
Report released by the Division of Consumer Affairs from the office of the New Jersey Attorney General. Recommends banning free gifts and meals and mandating disclosure of financial ties between doctors and drug companies.
Should Attorneys General Involve Themselves In Fast Food Litigation?
Banner Health Systems v. Long: A case study in the ability of state Attorneys General to apply charitable trust principles in order to regulate the activities of nonprofit corporations
The Role of State Attorneys General in Improving End-of-Life Healthcare: Holding Hospitals and Nursing Homes Accountable for Undertreatment of Pain
Driven to Settle: Eliot Spitzer v. GlaxoSmithKline and Undisclosed Clinical Trials Data Regarding Paxil
The Regulation of Online Pharmacies; The Need for a Combined Federal and State Effort
The State Attorney General As Determiner of Drug Reimportation Policy: An Examination of the Powers and Duties of the State Attorney General to Create Public Policy as Viewed through the Lens of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Issue