By Mary Holloway Richard.
President Obama has taken the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) to characterize continued activities on the Hill to repeal it as renegade special interest activities. The ACA continues to be a subject of debate both in terms of its accomplishments—how many are newly covered and how much will be saved—and in terms of its public support.
While the Associated Press reported on March 23, 2015, that public support was down 5% since its passage, as one who daily writes and advises health care clients on matters related to the ACA, I can say with certainty that the depth and breadth of increased regulation spawned by the ACA are changing the nature of the system.
Those changes include responsive movement toward integrated health systems, mergers and affiliations; transition from quantity- to quality-based reimbursement; the relaxation of HIPAA standards in some respects and its tightening in others in the context of EHR transformation; and increased direct and indirect costs to employers as a result of new responsibilities.
Nearly fifty changes have been made to the ACA as of March 2, 2015, and this suggests a continuing need for providers, employers and business owners to remain informed and responsive to the moving regulatory compliance target.
On Monday, March 30 the Supreme Court rejected a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) that targeted the Independent Payment Advisory Board (“IPAB”), a 15-member government panel which has been characterized as a “death panel” because of its intended role in cutting Medicare costs. The IPAB was to convene when the target growth rate for Medicare (3.03%) is exceeded. However, the growth rate is 1.15% according to CMS, and so the administration has not nominated any panel members. In declining to take up the case, the Supreme Court left undisturbed the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco dismissal of the lawsuit. The proponents of the ACA are calling this a win. Coons v. Lew, No. 14-525. Certiorari was denied by the United States Supreme Court on March 30, 2015.