Tuesday Tidbits

This morning without comment, the Supreme Court denied the motion of the petitioners defending the Affordable Care Act to expedite the Court’s review of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision on the ACA’s constitutionality (Nos. 19-840, 841). The FEHBlog has long given up on trying to predict Supreme Court decisions. Now. the respondents seeking to take down the law will have until shortly after the Super Bowl to submit their briefs. The petitioners will have an opportunity to reply, and then the Supreme Court can consider the petitioner in due course, perhaps late March or April. If the Court decides to review the Fifth Circuit opinion, which the FEHBlog assumes is unlikely, the case would be argued next fall. As yet, Federal District Judge Reed O’Connor has not begun the process of reconsidering his vacated decision holding the entire remainder of the ACA inseparable from the unconstitutional ACA individual mandate at least according to the docket sheet available on PACER. The stay order that the Judge Reed entered in December 2018 states in pertinent part that “The parties are directed to notify the Court upon the conclusion of the appeal of the partial judgment within 14 days of any decision.” As the Court is busy, it’s likely that the Judge will tend to other matters until the Supreme Court decides what to do at this stage at least in the FEHBlog’s view.

The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) announced today that the agency

is closely monitoring developments around a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in close to 300 confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City, with additional cases being identified in a growing number of countries internationally. The first case in the United States was announced on January 21, 2020. There are ongoing investigations to learn more.

The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that

Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that as health officials develop diagnostic tests and start testing people with symptoms who have traveled to Wuhan, more cases are likely to be identified around the world, including in the U.S. 

“As we start testing more, I expect that we’re going to see more cases,” she said. 

“I think it’s highly plausible there will be at least a case in the United States.” 

She called the spread a “serious issue,” but added that the CDC has “faced this challenge before.”

“Based on the info CDC has today, we believe the current risk from the virus to the general public is low,” Dr. Messonnier said in a telephonic press conference.

FYI, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report on Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Benefits and Challenges of Machine Learning in Drug Development. Here’s a link to the GAO’s version of Cliff Notes on the report.

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