MASSDEVICE ON CALL —
The federal judge in Florida who ruled the healthcare reform act unconstitutional stayed his own ruling to give U.S. Justice Dept. attorneys a seven-day window to appeal his decision.
Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for Northern Florida also chided the the Obama administration for continuing to implement the law and for taking too long to either file its appeal or ask him for clarification of his initial ruling.
That decision found that the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014 violates the Constitution. Federal lawyers then asked Vinson to clarify his ruling, prompting the plaintiffs (26 states and a trade group) to argue that he clearly meant to stop healthcare reform in its tracks. Obama’s attorneys countered by arguing that many of the states in the suit collected money from the healthcare reform law with one hand while challenging it in court with the other.
Vinson was stinging in his response yesterday, granting the appeal window bso federal lawyers can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, but questioning their acumen in the process.
“While I believe that my order was as clear and unambiguous as it could be, it is possible that the defendants may have perhaps been confused or misunderstood its import,” he wrote. “To the extent that the defendants were unable (or believed that they were unable) to comply, it was expected that they would immediately seek a stay of the ruling, and at that point in time present their arguments for why such a stay is necessary, which is the usual and standard procedure,” Vinson continued. “It was not expected that they would effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment for two and one-half weeks, continue to implement the act, and only then file a belated motion to ‘clarify.'”
Further north on the Eastern Seaboard, House Republicans are gearing up for hearings next week on de-funding the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, according to the The Hill’s Healthwatch blog. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee, wants to re-designate healthcare reform spending so that it’s discretionary rather than mandatory.
Former MIT prof pleads guilty to faking NIH grant app
A former Mass. Institute of Technology professor, Luk Van Parijs, could face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to faking an application for a research grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Van Parijs admitted to falsely claiming in 2003 that his MIT lab had created a transgenic mouse and used it to forward the understanding of
T-cells and autoimmune diseases, according to prosecutors. He’s due to be sentenced by Judge Denise Casper of the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts June 14.
More un-needed stenting, this time in Pennsylvania
Two Pennsylvania cardiologists implanted coronary stents in at least 141 patients who may not have needed them, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
None of the 141 identified patients is believed to have been harmed, but the Steel City’s Westmoreland Hospital is offering counseling and free medical care as a precaution. Hospital officials said the questionable stents were implanted by Drs. Ehab Morcos and George Bousamra, who performed more than 750 of the up to 2,000 stent procedures at the hospital last year.
The news comes on the heels of a similar case in neighboring Maryland, where legislators are mulling a bill to increase oversight of cardiac catheterization labs.
Diabetics die sooner.
Doctors know that diabetics have higher risks of dying of heart attacks and strokes, but new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that having diabetes also increases the risk of dying from certain cancers. Diabetics, on average, die about six years earlier than people without the condition, according to the two NEJM studies.
CDC: Adults don’t sleep enough. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that more than a third of Americans don’t get enough z’s. The study was released days ahead of National Sleep Awareness Week 2011.
Study links painkillers to birth defects. Babies born to women who take opioid pain killers such as codeine, oxycodone or hydrocodone just before or in early pregnancy are at increased but modest risk of birth defects, according to a CDC study.
Study: Many stem cells genetically corrupt. A study published in the journal Nature indicates that many reprogrammed stem cells — cells that are coaxed into acting the embryonic stem cells — have genetic mutations. The so-called pluripotent stem cells appear to hold on to a memory of their previous incarnation.