Morning CheckUp: June 30, 2011

Welcome to Morning CheckUp, ThinkProgress Health’s 7:00 AM round-up of the latest in health policy and politics. Here is what we’re reading, what are you?

6th circuit upholds health reform law: “The court ruled that the mandate regulates economic activity with a substantial effect on interstate commerce, and thus is legal. The court also agreed with the federal government that Congress had reason to think that allowing people to go uninsured would allow for “free riders” to take advantage of the system — and other taxpayers.” [Politico]

Obama reiterates supports for including health cuts in debt ceiling: “But I’ve been willing to say we need to see where we can reduce the cost of health care spending and Medicare and Medicaid in the out-years, not by shifting costs on to seniors, as some have proposed, but rather by actually reducing those costs.” [Kaiser Health News]

How Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan increases costs: “Ryan’s plan will drive up costs to both beneficiaries and the government alike by curbing the assistance that goes to the wealthiest seniors. Increased expenses and limited returns for the top 8 percent of beneficiaries gives them an incentive to opt out of Medicare altogether, reports Bloomberg, in turn forcing those in lower income brackets to make up the difference.” [Huffington Post]

Obama backs COBRA premium subsidy: “The Obama administration is backing a temporary boost in federal subsidies of health insurance premiums, such as COBRA coverage, for workers who lose their jobs due to foreign competition and older retirees in failed pension plans.” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has incorporated the increase in a draft trade bill with South Korea that his committee will discuss today. [Modern Healthcare]

Cigna spent $280,000 on gov lobbying: Health insurer Cigna Corp. spent $280,000 on lobbying “in the first quarter of 2011, a 30-percent drop from last year’s first quarter and an 18-percent decline from the final quarter of 2010.” The company focused on Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs and issues tied to taxing employer-provided health benefits. [Forbes]

WellPoint spent $1.45 million: That’s a “13-percent drop from what the Indianapolis insurer spent in the same quarter last year but a 55-percent increase over the final quarter of 2010.” [Forbes]

Second Kansas abortion clinic sues states: “Calling the state’s new licensing process a ‘sham,’ a second abortion clinic went to court Wednesday to block Kansas from imposing its new rules on abortion providers. [Kansas City Star]

Planned Parenthood is juggling multiple lawsuits: The organization “has launched an increasingly aggressive campaign to push back against both abortion restrictions and the federal funding of abortion providers for other services, like birth control and preventive care.” [Politico]

The high cost of chronic pain: Nearly a third of Americans experience long-lasting pain, a new report finds. Chronic pain is costing the nation at least $558 billion a year in medical bills, sick days, and lost productivity.” [AP]

Oregon senate approves delivery reform bill: The measure would “provide better health care by rewarding doctors and other care providers for keeping their patients healthy, moving away from the existing fee-for-service model of health care delivery.” It now goes to the governor. [KTVZ]

MA consumer groups ask for premium rate freeze: “As lawmakers and industry leaders toil over plans to fundamentally change how health care is paid for in Massachusetts, two leading consumer groups are asking them to give ratepayers a one-year reprieve from premium increases.” [Boston Globe]