News with clear eyes. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

The U.S. Supreme Court may already have decided the fate of two major sets of litigation regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).

The court held oral arguments in March, and observers note that the justices probably already have assigned associates to write the opinions justifying whatever conclusions the court reached, or failed to reach.

Now Paul Keckley, a consultant at the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Washington, reminds everyone that another major legal attack on PPACA is still in the pipeline.

In Houston, Keckley says, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of PPACA Section 6001, which prohibits physician-owned hospitals that had no Medicare provider agreement before Dec. 31, 2010, from participating in Medicare.

“The issue in question in Texas is the right of physicians to own and operate hospitals to which they refer patients,” Keckley says.

During oral arguments, one justice asked the U.S. Department of Justice to provide a letter on the department’s position on judicial review, Keckley notes.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

We occasionally hear about “single-payer” proposals — proposals to put one giant government agency in charge of U.S. health finance.

Washington state Rep. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, has another idea: a single provider proposal. Hasegawa says we should tackle health care cost problems by putting one government agency in charge of providing health care.

Hasegawa’s bill, state House Bill 2832, would require the state to develop a plan for creating “a publicly sponsored integrated delivery system in which residents would receive care from state-employed providers in state-owned and operated facilities or from nonprofit entities contracting with the state.”

The bill is also a single-payer bill. If implemented as written, the bill would create a public trust that would take responsibility for paying for all health care in Washington state.

The bill is in the Washington state House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

CARTOON BENEFITS ENROLLMENT NETWORK

Dearborn National, a unit of Health Care Service Corp., Chicago, has hired Trustnode Inc., San Francisco, to help it simplify the voluntary benefits enrollment process with personalized cartoon characters.

The Trustnode technology can use an employee’s demographic information to choose a compatible cartoon character and determine what the cartoon character tells the employee, Dearborn says.