Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act

The Supreme Court has upheld the 2010 Affordable Care Act, preserving President Obama’s landmark legislative achievement in healthcare reform.

The Court ruled that Congress did not overstep its power by requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance. The majority (5-4) opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax. But the justices did find fault with part of the healthcare law’s expansion of Medicaid, and made some changes to the Medicaid portion of the law.

For PTPN members, the ruling means that health policy established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 will continue to be implemented and the landscape for our practices will continue to evolve accordingly. It also confirms that transparency, accountability and outcomes measurement – things PTPN has been helping you prepare for in recent years — will continue to grow in importance and influence with regard to reimbursement and contracting, in both the public and private sectors.

Jerry Connolly, PTPN’s Capitol Hill Lobbyist, gives us his take on the political landscape. According to Jerry, it could mean continued partisan pugilism as exemplified by a statement released by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shortly after the ruling. Boehner repudiated the Supreme Court decision, saying “We don’t have to accept Obamacare. The House Republicans will continue to work for full repeal.”

With the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the PPACA, repeal could be a precarious balancing act for Republican politicians who have adopted the mantra “repeal and replace.” Legislative initiatives have been heavy on the former (“repeal”) but light on the latter (“replace”). And any attempt to repeal could meet resistance from an electorate who, while not overwhelmingly in support of the entire law, is quite fond of specific provisions, particularly the insurance reforms such as end of annual and lifetime insurance caps, elimination of denials based on preexisting conditions, allowing children to stay on parents’ insurance until age 26, and first dollar coverage for preventive care.

Nevertheless, we can expect a number of repeal measures to be introduced and voted on by the Republican led House. (The first vote will be July 11). Senate measures could also be introduced but are not likely to get a vote. PTPN will continue to monitor and be involved in any policy discussions that can shape our business environment.

With political flames being fanned, the partisan wrangling in Washington will doubtless spillover into the 2012 presidential, congressional, senatorial and elections. But the fact that the U.S Supreme Court has accepted for the nation, essentially the same health care program Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts, could put the presumed Republican nominee in a difficult political position. Congressional and Senate candidates will also have to decide if they want to make health care a central campaign issue.

While elections are never unimportant, the decisions voters make this November will influence what happens to issues of unique importance to PTPN, such as the therapy caps and the Medicare reimbursement rate which is scheduled to be cut by nearly 30% January 1. It is believed that these issues will not be addressed until a lame duck Congress is convened after the election.

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