On June 28th, the US Supreme Court voted to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The 5-4 decision likely satisfied a few eager constituents, but many people (including physicians) are still unaware of the actual provisions in this law. The ruling created more points for discussion since it was based on Congress’ authority to impose a tax penalty on some people who choose not to purchase health insurance. All this controversy notwithstanding, the ACA was ruled constitutional. Healthcare providers need to therefore make every effort to understand its implications as we strive to be better patient advocates.
The expansion of Medicaid was also a noteworthy point in the Supreme Court ruling. The court affirmed the constitutionality of this ACA provision for people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level – with a caveat that limits the federal governments ability to terminate existing Medicaid funding to states that choose to opt out.
Since most of us providers have difficulty simply keeping up with our journal reading, I doubt our schedules will permit a page-by-page review of the PPACA law – it is over 900 pages. Fortunately, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released a very thoughtful and objective summary of the new Health Reform Law. It focuses on the key provisions and more importantly is devoid of any political spin. Another very useful resource for physicians is a list of inclusions and time of implementation. These documents are comprehensive and will help to educate providers about the new changes in US healthcare, now and for the next few years.
The implications of healthcare reform are here. As providers, it is our imperative to educate ourselves about this (not so) new law and become active participants, not mere observers.
I found the websites below very informative. These should provide a great start to a better understanding of the new healthcare provisions.
– O’Neil J. Pyke, MD, SFHM