Question 1: What part of Healthcare Reform are people saying isn’t constitutional?
Beginning on March 26, 2012, the Supreme Court will spend three days hearing arguments about three key issues to determine the constitutionality of healthcare reform, specifically:
- Is the individual mandate unconstitutional? i.e. Is requiring people to buy health insurance or face a penalty in violation of the Constitution?
- Can the mandate be separate from the rest of the healthcare reform act? If the individual mandate is ruled to be illegal, the court will then have to determine which parts of the law should be eliminated – if not the law in its entirety.
- Should this challenge be pushed to 2014? Before answering questions 1 and 2, the Court must first decide if this mandate is a “tax.” If so, the court cannot legally make a ruling on it until it takes effect in 2014 because of the “Anti-Injunction Act” that states that “consumers can’t challenge a tax law until they have to pay for it.”
It is assumed the court will rule on the challenge by the end of June. Stay tuned.
Question 2: Should I even care about healthcare reform until after the presidential election occurs in November?
Assuming healthcare reform law is deemed constitutional, this presidential election could certainly lead to major changes in the White House, Congress, and, therefore, healthcare reform law. If Republicans gain control, we will surely see healthcare reform (as we know it) substantially changed, if not repealed in its entirety. If Democrats maintain control, much of the reform could be implemented as planned. Until you know the tide is changing, however, you may want to keep up with the incremental changes. Better yet, have ESG help you keep up with the changes.
Question 3: What is happening with healthcare reform in 2012?
The bulk of healthcare reform still doesn’t kick in until 2014. However, there are a few things that are taking place in 2012 to keep the ball rolling. (Source: HRmorning.com)
- Jan 1: Groups of healthcare providers started to form Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to treat Medicare patients, with the intention to improve healthcare quality and decrease healthcare costs.
- March 26-28: The Supreme Court will hear the constitutionality challenges (see Question 1).
- Oct 1: Changes to standardize billing will take effect, requiring health plans to adopt and implement rules for the electronic exchange of health information. Value-Based Purchasing will also take effect, connecting hospitals’ Medicare payments to performance metrics. (Higher quality of care will receive higher payments. Hospitals will be penalized if a patient is readmitted for an illness that could have been prevented during a previous stay.)
- Nov 6: General election (see question 2).
- Dec 31: States must report on the progress they’ve made in having their individual health insurance exchanges ready for 2014. Feds may step in for states that haven’t made enough progress.
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