Health reform reaches the Supreme Court: On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Obama’s 2010 health law. Oral arguments are scheduled for March 2012, with a decision expected in June, just as the presidential election will be heating up. The announcement comes during a week when a new Gallup Poll finds that more Americans now oppose the health law’s individual mandate, even though health insurance premiums are spiking in every state.
Court observers are offering mixed predictions on whether the health law or its key provisions will be upheld or struck down. Mother Jones offers one of the more novel analyses, suggesting that a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that backyard pot cultivation still fell within the purview of the Commerce Clause because personal medical marijuana cultivation still constituted “part of a very large, interstate market.” Don’t laugh. So far, two appellate courts that have upheld the health law have cited the 2005 ruling. If Congress can regulate someone growing pot in the backyard for personal medical use, “it is difficult to say Congress may not regulate 50 million Americans who self-finance their medical care,” wrote Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a Bush appointee who ruled in favor of Obama’s health law.
80 is the new 65: News that applications for unemployment dropped to a 7-month low didn’t do much to improve investor outlook. According to a new survey released this week by Wells Fargo, 25 percent of respondents expect to work until the age of 80 because they don’t believe they will have the means to retire earlier. A lack of funds may also be causing a slow-down in out-of-state retirement migration, which is at its lowest level since 1948 when the Census Bureau began tracking the activity. Planners may soon be as pessimistic about the economy as their clients, according to a separate study released this week. More than a quarter (27 percent) of advisors are now pessimistic about the 5-year economic outlook, a jump in 20 points since February.
What’s up with wellness: Employers are taking a much more proactive role in encouraging healthy habits for their employees. According to findings released this week, 9 out of 10 employers now offer wellness programs. Some employers are even imposing financial penalties on employees making poor health decisions. Someone may want to let Congress in on the trend for encouraging healthier behavior as it gets ready to vote on a bill that would label pizza as a vegetable in school lunches.
The tiny state with a big problem: In a move that could have sweeping implications for states around the country, on Thursday Rhode Island lawmakers signed off on a bill that would modify the state’s severely underfunded public pension program. The governor is expected to sign off on the bill as soon as it hits his desk. Other states, including California and Florida, are closely monitoring the legislation in Rhode Island as a possible model for correcting budget shortfalls that have reached epidemic proportions.
In Florida, a regulatory battle that could upend health reform (The Washington Post)
South Carolina’s waiting game on health insurance exchange (Kaiser Health News)
Could your company ruin your retirement? (Benefits Pro)
Dodd-Frank’s derivatives reform: Clear as mud (ProPublica)
Retirement-plan managers push for simplicity (The Columbus Dispatch)
5 workplace benefits trends for 2012 (BenefitsPro)
2012 HAS and FSA cheat sheet (BenefitsPro)
This week’s most popular story on BenefitsPro: 5 workplace benefits trends for 2012
Top BenefitsPro blogs this week:
Closing argument, by Denis Storey
The lonely road to retirement, by Jenny Ivy
We (kind of) appreciate you, veterans, by Kathryn Mayer
The world’s most obscure insurance, by Dan Cole
How to protect your 401(k) from a Madoff scenario, by Chris Carosa
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