Posts Tagged ‘ObamaCare’

Calorie labels and craft brewers

The Obamacare/FDA calorie-label provision, which we’ve met before, “requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie information for ‘standard menu items,’ including each available beer, on menus and menu boards by December 2016. Testing the nutritional content of a single beer could cost as much as $1,000, according to the Beer Institute, a trade association representing brewers.” For craft brewers, the costs of testing every variant small-run flavor can add up fast. And unless a brewer is willing to pre-emptively shell out for testing in advance at its own risk, it may miss out on the chance to make the jump into chain distribution: “Restaurants interested in carrying a craft beer may not want to wait for testing to be done and will move on to beers that already have nutritional information.” [Michelle Minton, Real Clear Policy]

Medical roundup

  • Study of Type I, Type II error finds FDA much too conservative in drug approval [Vahid Montazerhodjat and Andrew Lo via Tabarrok]
  • Behind push to license/regulate personal trainers in Washington, DC and elsewhere: ACA opened spigot of publicly channeled wellness money [Aaron Davis/Washington Post via Tyler Cowen, Peter Suderman]
  • “Medical lending”: financiers “invest in operations to remove pelvic implants, [reap] payouts when cases settle” [Alison Frankel and Jessica Dye, Reuters]
  • War on Some Drugs again collides with cancer therapy: “Psilocybin, it appears, targets this existential and spiritual distress.” [Ann Althouse]
  • Citing First Amendment, federal court enjoins FDA from prohibiting truthful speech by drugmakers about off-label uses [WSJ, Alex Tabarrok (in recent years, federal government “has extracted billions of dollars in settlements from pharmaceutical firms for engaging in what appears to be constitutionally protected speech”), Beck and Sullivan, Drug & Device Law on Amarin v. FDA]
  • SEIU 1199: “The union that rules New York” [Daniel DiSalvo/Stephen Eide, Daily Beast and City Journal]
  • Controversial therapist who is also anti-vaccine expert witness loses court challenge to Maryland medical license revocation [Beck, Drug and Device Law]

The rest of the Supreme Court’s term

With three decision days remaining — today, tomorrow, and next Monday — Ilya Shapiro outlines the remaining seven cases and their importance, including Texas Dept. of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project (are defendants liable under “disparate impact” theories in housing discrimination law?) and King v. Burwell (interpreting Congress’s language on Obamacare subsidies).

Update: Both of those cases were decided this morning. In King v. Burwell, the Court broke 6-3 for the administration to uphold the IRS’s rewrite of ObamaCare subsidies. The Court keeps on hand a supply of what one observer called Get Out Of Bad Drafting Free cards, but as Justice Scalia noted in his “SCOTUScare” dissent, awards them only for certain laws. And the housing case was a big win for the left as Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberals to uphold housing suits based on “disparate impact” theories. His opinion throws a sop or two about how disparate impact shouldn’t imply quotas, which I suspect will mean about as much as similar sops the Court has thrown over the years in employment and education, i.e., not much. (P.S. As one reader rightly objects, the problem in Burwell wasn’t so much bad drafting as drafting that failed of its intended coercive effect and therefore needed to be revised if there was to be a Plan B. More on King v. Burwell: Roger Pilon and Ilya Shapiro at Cato)

EEOC roundup

  • “Courts remind EEOC again: Background checks don’t equal racism” [Todd Lebowitz, The Hill; my take on EEOC v. Freeman]
  • Another lesson of Old Dominion (boozing truck driver) verdict: employers’ “open door” grievance policies may harbor potential liabilities [Jon Hyman]
  • Caseloads: “Three Observations about the New EEOC Statistics” [Daniel Schwartz]
  • “Employers seek to halt EEOC’s efforts to drum up plaintiffs for its ‘Onionhead’ lawsuit” [Hyman]
  • Reform bills in House hopper include HR 548 (protects employer use of credit or criminal records), HR 549 (requires vote of commission to approve litigation against multiple defendants or over systemic/pattern-and-practice discrimination), HR 550 (requires disclosure of results of litigation that have reached judgment; requires certification that pre-filing conciliation has reached impasse, and allows judicial review of EEOC conduct during conciliation) More: Hearing Monday on these three and H.R. 1189, “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act”;
  • “EEOC’s Strange War Against ObamaCare And Employer Wellness Plans” [Eric Dreiband]
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has “invited the public to comment on ‘significant existing EEOC regulations to determine whether they should be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed,'” comments period ends April 20 [Insurance Journal; address to Public.Comments.RegulatoryReview @]

King v. Burwell oral argument

Above is an introductory video on King v. Burwell, the ObamaCare exchange subsidy challenge, from my Cato colleagues Michael Cannon and Trevor Burrus, introduced by Caleb Brown. Tomorrow you can stream this Cato reaction panel on the Court’s arguments featuring Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Simon Lazarus of the Constitutional Accountability Center, Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post; and Michael Cannon, moderated by Ilya Shapiro of Cato.

While I’ve mostly left the analysis of King v. Burwell to others at Cato (aside from gathering links to others’ work here at Overlawyered) I did respond when New York Times columnist Paul Krugman employed what I called “remarkably ugly and truculent” terms to assail the challenge, saying it could succeed only in a “corrupt” Supreme Court.

P.S. While the lawprof amicus brief on behalf of the Obama administration garbs itself in the wolf pelt of severe textualism, Jonathan Adler spies the fluffy sheep beneath.

And: an after-the-argument statement by Ilya Shapiro (“If the government wins here, then not only will Obamacare continue to be rewritten by the IRS, but any executive agency – and any future president – will be able to rewrite any law.”).

Medical roundup

  • King v. Burwell: next ObamaCare showdown at Supreme Court [Ilya Shapiro and Josh Blackman, David Bernstein on Cato brief, Adler v. Bagley Federalist video, Michael Greve with theory of Justice Kennedy riding off to Colorado with Dagny, earlier]
  • “J&J says women being illegally solicited to join in mesh lawsuits” [Jessica Dye/Reuters, same on lawyers’ response, more on which]
  • Invoking ACA, feds regulate non-profit hospitals to require periodic community needs assessment, limit collection methods [Treasury]
  • Unless judges are vigilant, lawyers will take advantage of mass tort joinder to evade CAFA limits on forum-shopping [Steven Boranian, Drug & Device Law]
  • Popular literature on IRBs/consent of research subjects can employ dubious definitions of “coercion” [Simon Whitney via Zachary Schrag]
  • Qui tam lawyers vs. pharmaceutical companies, some empirical findings [Bill of Health]
  • So that’s what “anatomical theatre” means: researcher checks into ostensible open-source medical journals and finds many “had suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.” [Fast Company on report finding that fake paper was accepted for publication by 17 journals]
  • A student of David Henderson’s recalls the state of medicine under the Soviets: assignment to providers based on place of residence; the role of gifts, favors, and clout; how idealistic doctors became cynics; the black market as a safety valve. [EconLog]

Harvard health-care hilarity

“For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.” [New York Times via Jonathan Adler; Rich Lowry, New York Post (quoting Twitter: “Karma is a pre-existing condition.”; Michael Cannon, Cato (“one of the most wonderful things I have read in the course of my career”)]

Medical roundup

  • Furious over EEOC attack on wellness programs, CEOs threaten to suspend their support for ObamaCare [Reuters] Had it been common knowledge that CEOs covertly support ObamaCare, then? And isn’t the EEOC formally an independent agency not answerable to White House directives?
  • If more editors handled situations this way, readers would think better of the press: Annalee Newitz of io9 offers “apology and analysis” for running tendentious, ill-reported article attacking animal-based research;
  • Success of personal injury litigation is reshaping nursing home business in some states [WSJ]
  • “With the Advent of Mandatory Paid Sick Leave in California, Here are a Few Sick Leave Excuses” [Coyote, related Massachusetts]
  • Really, it’s not a shock-scandal that rules for human-subjects research might be written by actual scientists [Zachary Schrag, IRB Blog]
  • In combating diseases of poverty, you’d think economic growth would top the list of remedies [Bryan Caplan]
  • Judge slices $9 billion punitive Actos award against Takeda and Lilly by 99% [Bloomberg, earlier]
  • “Grubergate, the Mini-Series” [Michael Cannon; more from Cannon on Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in King v. Burwell ObamaCare case]

FDA issues calorie label mandate

Another hidden gift inside the Affordable Care Act: mandatory calorie labeling for many restaurant menus. Walter Olson comments on the complications and potential unintended consequences of such a mandate.

My new Cato podcast: the new FDA calorie labeling rules apply to not-so-big chains (20 +) of grocery stores and amusement facilities as well as restaurants, and make it less likely that servers and local managers will manage to vary from rigidly standardized recipes, menu listings and portion sizes based on knowledge of their local customers, temporary availability of attractive ingredients, and so forth. That won’t matter much for food servers who already design their offerings in a lab, but spells trouble for those whose offerings are more localized or unpredictable (earlier). Coverage by Ed Morrissey of what the scheme would mean for a 21-unit pizza chain is linked here.

In January, David Boaz commented on the parallel vending machine calorie label mandate:

In my experience, vending machines shuffle their offerings fairly frequently. If the machine operators have to change the calorie information displayed every time they swap potato chips for corn chips, then $2,200 [per operator per year] seems like a conservative estimate of costs. But then, as Hillary Clinton said when it was suggested that her own health care plan would bankrupt small businesses, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

More: Baylen Linnekin. And Julie Gunlock recalls her own days working in a supermarket deli. Goodbye, making up prepared salads in single-serving containers from whatever produce happened to be in overstock at the time. Hello, food waste!