Pennsylvania Sued Over Health Care Changes

Earlier this week, Community Legal Services filed suit against the state of Pennsylvania over changes to health care beginning next year.

Under the changes coming next year, Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program is being renamed from HealthChoices to Healthy Pennsylvania. Instead of expanding traditional Medicaid coverage as recommended in Obama’s health care law, Pennsylvania instead decided to expand on its own — accepting only some money from Medicaid.

All Pennsylvanians in Healthy PA are being moved into three tiers of coverage. In the suit — Mendez v. Mackereth — against the state’s Department of Public Welfare, CLS argues two of the three new health care options under Healthy PA “contain very significant, potentially health-altering cuts.”

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Parents Avoid Contempt Citation in Daughter’s Tuition Lawsuit

A judge yesterday refused to hold a 21-year-old’s parents in contempt, ruling the parents do not need to pay Caitlyn Ricci’s tuition while they appeal. In addition, the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court will now take on the case.

Ricci sued her parents, who are separated, in February 2013. A judge ordered them to pay $16,000 of her daughter’s tuition at Temple in October. Ricci was seeking an injunction that would force her parents to pay it while they appealed or face fines or jail time.

Ricci has come under wide criticism since suing her parents, and the strain showed: “Her grandfather, Matthew Ricci, tried to shield his granddaughter, who has yet to respond to her critics,” Action News notes.

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D.A. Drops Forfeiture Cases That Drew National Attention

Christos Sourovelis and the house he'll get to keep.

Christos Sourovelis and the house his family will get to keep.

The district attorney’s office has ended its attempts to seize the homes of two Philadelphia families who had sued over the city’s aggressive civil forfeiture practices.

The Institute for Justice, which had sued on behalf of Christos Sourovelis and Doila Welch to shut down the program, announced Thursday that the D.A. had dropped its forfeiture cases against the two.

“We are pleased that Christos and Doila’s families will be able to enjoy their homes for the holidays,” said Darpana Sheth, an attorney with the institute, in a press release.

Philadelphia’s civil forfeiture practices came under scrutiny in late 2012, when City Paper’s Isaiah Thompson wrote that the program brought $6 million a year in assets to the city’s law enforcement community. He explained that the law is intended to seize the assets of drug dealers to prevent the property from being used in crime.

The problem? The government doesn’t actually have to prove the property was used in a crime. And in many cases, it was only tangentially related to an alleged crime.
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SEPTA Sues Drug Maker Over $1,000-a-Pill Hep C Drug

SEPTA has sued the drugmaker Gilead over the price of its Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which costs about $1,000 a pill — or $84,000 for a standard treatment.

The lawsuit says the 12-week treatment costs only $900 in Egypt. Gilead also recently cut a deal to sell generic Sovaldi, sofosbuvir, in 91 developing countries. The lawsuit says the Federal Bureau of Prisons also receives massive discounts on the Hep C drug. Gilead has made $5.7 billion selling Sovaldi this year already, about half its revenue.

SEPTA is seeking a judgment that Gilead has engaged in price discrimination, as well as monetary restitution. The transit agency is suing because it is a “third party payor” of its employees’ health care costs; SEPTA has paid $2.4 million for Sovaldi since the drug came out.
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Bensalem Muslims Say Township Won’t Let Them Build a Mosque

bensalem-mosque-masjid

Bensalem has its fair share of churches and other houses of worship. The Bucks County township of 60,000 has Catholic churches, Protestant churches, synagogues, a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, and a Buddhist Temple. And there are two Hindu temples under development. But if you’re a Bensalem Muslim, you’re out of luck, because Bensalem doesn’t have a mosque. Instead, local Muslims meet once a week for Friday prayers inside a rented fire hall. Read more »

Comcast Responds to Hotspot Lawsuit

We told you this morning that Comcast is being sued in federal court over its Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot program, which piggybacks on customers’ residential routers to provide Internet service to other customers who are out and about.

Late this afternoon, the company sent a statement to Philly Mag on the subject:

“We disagree with the allegations in this lawsuit and believe our Xfinity WiFi home hotspot program provides real benefits to our customers,” the company said in the release. “We provide information to our customers about the service and how they can easily turn off the public WiFi hotspot if they wish http://wifi.comcast.com/faqs.html.”

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Complaint: SRC Violated Pennsylvania Sunshine Act

As anticipated, public school activists have filed a complaint against the School Reform Commission, charging the SRC violated the state’s Sunshine Act when it unilaterally canceled the teachers’ contract last month.

The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and member Lisa Haver filed the complaint. Though the SRC meeting that canceled the teachers’ contracts was done on a Monday morning with little notice, the SRC published an ad in the Inquirer and on Philly.com that Sunday. The state’s Sunshine Act requires public meetings to be advertised at least 24 hours in advance.

But the lawsuit says those advertisements did not fulfill the Sunshine Act’s requirements.

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Main Line’s Overbrook Golf Club Hit With Messy Sexual Harassment Suit

main-line-golf-club-lawsuit-overbrook

The Overbrook Golf Club may bear the name of the crowded, rough-in-parts neighborhood that sits on the western edge of Philadelphia, but the exclusive private club is very far removed from the inner city, located instead on 128 “magnificent, rolling acres” in Villanova, the “heart of the fabled Philadelphia Main Line,” as the club describes it. There’s a 25-meter pool, a 35,000-square-foot “Georgian manor” for member dining, and, of course, an exquisite golf course, where its members exchange blue-blooded niceties and market tips. But a new lawsuit casts an ugly shadow on all that high-society tidiness. Read more »

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