Originally published by VOXXI as “How the Affordable Care Act influenced policy making in 2012.”
BY HOPE GILLETTE
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) survived both Supreme Court scrutiny and the presidential election during 2012, making the reform policy one of the most influential pieces of legislation since its introduction back in March of 2010.
Since that time, the ACA has had an important role in many national developments, including what The Farragut Square Group identified as the top 5 health care-related policy decisions during the year 2012.
“The year 2012 will go down in history as one of the most important for health care policy because of the legal and political decisions that insured the historic — and controversial — Affordable Care Act or ‘ObamaCare’ will actually become law,” said Farragut Square Group President Brian Fortune in statement accompanying release of the list, reported by PhysBizTech. ”It also set the stage for major budget battles that will significantly impact healthcare funding and fundamental healthcare reforms into the future.”
- Supreme Court ruling: During 2012, 26 states took the federal government to court, claiming the Affordable Care Act was in breach of constitutional rights by demanding citizens enter into contracts with private companies in an effort to provide insurance to the masses. At the heart of the issue was the Individual Mandate, which enforced a penalty should a U.S. resident, who could afford it financially, fail to purchase the required coverage. After the hearings, the Supreme Court upheld the health law with a few minor exceptions, ensuring an additional 30 million people in the U.S. would receive health insurance coverage by 2014.
- President Obama’s reelection: When the Affordable Care Act passed through the Supreme Court, its critics were quick to pass the decision off, stating the November election would be the real make-or-break time for the health care reform law. If President Obama failed to be reelected, candidate Mitt Romney and his administration would place the Affordable Care Act on the top of their list of policies to repeal. President Obama did win the election, however, ensuring the ACA was to become the health law of the land for at least another 4 years.
- Supreme Court makes Medicare expansion optional: One of the changes made by the Supreme Court when the Affordable Care Act came under scrutiny happened to the Medicare expansion policy. Under the original ACA, states not participating in the Medicare program would be subject to a penalty. The court ruled this unconstitutional and instead granted states the option to opt out of the program without penalty. Farragut predicts this will lead to many ACA negotiations over the years, especially since Medicare is the only health insurer in all 50 states.
- The fiscal cliff: While the fiscal cliff is not solely about health care, much of the monies being debated are tied up to the health care system. More than 1,000 government programs are scheduled to take financial cuts should the fiscal cliff not be agreed upon by deadline. Among those, the Centers for Disease Control, low-income food assistance programs, the National Institutes of Health, and the Office of Health Affairs are all slated for large cutbacks.
- The Medicare fix: Much focus in 2012 was on the Medicare program, especially with the future of the health insurer up in the regarding the year 2024. By that date, at the current rate of expense, the Medicare fund will be completely exhausted. While much of the 2012 election centered on Medicare expansion, the focus gradually shifted toward fixing the Medicare program rather than changing it completely.