Health Care in America: What Now?

JULY 10, 2012
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA’s) controversial individual mandate requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. In a 5 to 4 vote, the PPACA was deemed constitutional, with the justices in the minority arguing that the entire law should have been struck down.

As reported on www. PharmacyTimes.com, the decision limited one important part of the law—the expansion of Medicaid designed to provide health coverage to millions of low-income and disabled Americans. This ruling limits the federal government’s ability to revoke funding from states that refuse to go along with the expansion. Our Senior Editor Daniel Weiss reported, “Although the court’s decision settles the question of the law’s constitutionality, political wrangling over it will continue. Likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney supports a repeal of the entire law, and in the wake of today’s decision, Republican congressional leaders vowed to push for full repeal as well.”

So, what now? It is striking that the Supreme Court decision is seen as a victory for the middle class when, ultimately, it will be the middle class who will have to pay for it. Those opposed to the bill and urging a full repeal estimate that every taxpayer will be hit—and hit hard— to pay for the unknowns that still lurk in the bill. Bigger government is certainly not better.

As the country grapples with an economy that is still unsettled, people are taking individual action to protect themselves and their families. For example, did you know that 13% of your fellow pharmacists are moonlighting?

They are adding shifts, experimenting with new career options, and even starting their own businesses to gain that extra ground that has been lost. Ever entrepreneurial, pharmacists are stepping it up and taking personal responsibility for their futures. See our story, “Moonlighting Pharmacists: Exploring Career Options,” for the details.

Our newest departments, “Medication Therapy Management Today” and “Brown Bag Consult,” also demonstrate the flexibility— and deep-rooted value—of pharmacists as they perform much-needed medication and health counseling. The small silver lining of the PPACA is that pharmacists might be utilized more as a cost-saving measure as the health care needs of this country swell.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) came out with a positive spin on the news from the Supreme Court by pointing out important proposed legislation that could greatly affect the role of pharmacists.

The Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011 (S. 274) and the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2011 (H.R. 891) both have bipartisan support. According to the NACDS, “These commonsense bills can help patients understand the importance of taking their medications as prescribed, which can lead to improved health as well as lowering their health care costs.”

Lowering costs, smart management of resources, and commonsense bills—that’s what is needed when we ask the question, “What now?”

Thank you for reading!

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