Health Care Reform Debate Continues in the Courts

Litigation over the constitutionality of Health Care Reform continues to work its way through the Federal judiciary and towards the Supreme Court. In an article in today’s New York Times, the arrival of two active cases from the trial level to the United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit) in Richmond, Virginia, will give the first federal appellate court a crack at resolving inconsistent rulings by two different lower courts.

One of the lower courts, according to the Times, said Congress overstepped in mandating health insurance. Another lower court said otherwise. Whatever the Court of Appeals rules following today’s oral arguments in both cases, you can bet that they will quickly head to the United States Supreme Court.

The Times also reports that 31 cases have been filed across the country, of which a total of 9 have already moved on to the US Court of Appeals.

So consider it a horse race, as lawyers around the country try to win the lottery, by not only pursuing the case that the US Supreme Court decides, but to be on the winning side. In addition, as the Times points out, many if not all of the cases will be barnacled by briefs filed by scores of non-party “friends-of-the-court” (which actually translates to “special interest groups”).

In the end, each of the litigants, and “friends-of-the-court” think they know whether Congress can mandate that citizens buy commercial health insurance. Whether or not even the Supreme Court answers that as clearly as everyone would like is another question entirely.

For more information, please contact Jonathan Raven, Chair of Fraser Trebilcock Health Care Law Department, at 517.377.0816 or

Is the Court playing politics with wastewater?

On April 25, 2011, in a case illustrating the partisan politics played in the Michigan Supreme Court, the Court issued a 4 to 3 decision to dismiss an environmental protection act case and vacate that Court’s December 2010 decision in the same matter on the ground that the case was “moot.”

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Valuable Insight From An Entrepreneur

Business owners often blur the distinction between successful entrepreneurial start-ups and companies that transition well to professionally-managed, vital companies with staying power. Our client, Jason Schreiber, CEO of Arialink, recently won an entrepreneurial award from The Greater Lansing Business Monthly and was recently asked to comment on his own success, and how he uses his philosophy to create value. (See article

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Living Trusts for Couples

The following article appeared in the April 21, 2011 of the Ingham County Legal News.

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 significantly changed estate planning for 2011 and 2012. One of the key changes was to increase the federal estate tax exemption amount from $1 million to $5 million per person. So, for a married couple, they can theoretically pass a combined $10 million to their descendants without a federal estate tax. One of the other key changes was to provide for the “portability” or transfer of the exemption from the deceased spouse’s estate to the surviving spouse. This latter change may reduce some of the incentive to use living trusts.

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Impact of Health Care Reform on Group Health Plans– The First Years

Over the next several years, group health plans face significant new challenges under the lengthy and complex Health Care Reform Law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and then was immediately amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act on March 30th (collectively, the “Health Care Reform Law”). The Health Care Reform Law drastically changes health care as we know it and requires immediate action and ongoing analysis and restructuring of benefits in the years to come.

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Proposed Michigan Law: Governmental Employers & Health Plan Contribution Increases

Currently, there is legislation pending (Michigan Senate Bill No. 7) which would require public employers to contribute no more than 80% toward the cost of health insurance for their employees. If this becomes law, numerous public employees will be required to begin contributing at least 20% toward their health insurance costs. This legislation is written with an effective date of January 1, 2013.

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Today’s Legal Strategies Demand Public Relations

Today’s business environment demands an aggressive strategy to resolve issues legally while protecting one’s reputation publicly. As a result, lawyers need to be more than legal counselors or advocates. They need to be familiar enough with how perception is created within the public eye and how to use the media effectively to manage that perception. Therefore, the potential impact any litigation will have on a client’s image, reputation, investor relations and future business must be considered in creating a legal strategy.

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Steps To Take In A Crisis

The best plans don’t have automatic responses, but a number of questions for the crisis team to ask, such as:

  • What are the business goals in addressing this crisis?
  • Who do we need to help?
  • What information has been gathered?
  • What don’t we know?
  • Who can help us?
  • What must we do now to protect our employees, customers and shareholders?

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Courting Public Opinion

Companies today face increased challenges from regulatory and legislative authorities. Likewise, legal issues continue to permeate the headlines, often in inaccurate and oversimplified treatments placing brands, businesses and reputations at risk.

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