Health Care Reform: 2012 and Beyond

As this year winds down, health care professionals can look forward to a volatile landscape in the turbulent world of health care reform. The year 2011 ushered in at least some of the details of the much debated Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)—passed with great partisanship in 2010 and hailed as President Obama’s most controversial domestic achievement. However, the coming new year promises to bring some choppy waters. In mid-November, the US Supreme Court announced that it will, in fact, hear a challenge to the sweeping health care reform law that has left many concerned and opposed to the law and its measures.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, “The case raises several issues, but chief among them is this: Did Congress exceed its constitutional powers when it required most individuals to carry health insurance or pay a penalty?” That penalty would be put in effect by 2014, but it is crucial that this court case be heard and decided well before then, if the elements of the new law are to take hold. Now that the court has put the PPACA on their schedule, once again the debate concerning this controversial health care reform bill will take front and center—both with the American public and health care professionals.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear more than 5 hours of arguments in March 2012, with a decision expected by the end of June, couldn’t come at a more interesting time. That timing puts the court’s decision—and all of its ramifications— squarely into the presidential election cycle and in the middle of the political process. Good news? Depends on who you ask.

Polls indicate that American are deeply divided about this major health care overhaul, with many believing that the numbers just don’t add up and the details are simply too elusive. The original law, which aimed to provide medical coverage for more than 30 million uninsured Americans, sounded lofty enough as a goal but it has proven to raise more problems than it solves. Such is the case, in my opinion, when government has such a large voice in what affects so many livelihoods, and simply grows in scope and size as the answer to any need. So far, 26 of 50 states have questioned the constitutionality of the PPACA, and have asked the law to be struck down.

The Supreme Court could strike down the insurance mandate or other provisions, as well as the entire law itself. One of the states that lead the charge against the law is Florida, where the Attorney General Pam Bondi has said, “We are hopeful that by June 2012 we will have a decision that protects Americans’ and individual’ liberties and limits the federal government’ powers.” Limiting federal powers, finding a common sense solution at the local community level, with appropriate state and federal support, will allow individuals, communities, and health care professionals to take charge of their own destinies and not allow the federal government to dictate its own solutions.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy