Affordable Health Care Act Decision

The Supreme Court’s decision last Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act means that the predictions about how it will affect Americans remain in place. The ruling has broad implications for the delivery of vision care, at both the federal and state levels.

Image: Courtesy CS monitor

Two of the nation’s largest insurers, United Healthcare and Humana, recently announced they would voluntarily maintain some aspects of health care reform, including coverage of adult dependents up to age 26, even if the law was scrapped. In a statement released immediately after the ruling and sent to all their members,  Kaiser Permanente said, “Today’s Supreme Court decision on the federal health care reform law resolves much of the legal uncertainty over implementation of the law’s provisions. While acknowledging that political uncertainty still remains, in the interest of our members, we plan to continue our extensive reform implementation efforts, which began two years ago when the law first became effective.”

The American Optometric Association made this statement about the ruling:

AOA anticipates that federal and state-level agencies will now increase efforts to shape state-based health insurance exchanges and implement further provisions of the sweeping new law, including the AOA-backed Harkin Amendment, Stabenow Amendment, and pediatric vision care essential benefit.

Battling organized medicine, insurers, and others with an anti-optometry agenda, AOA fought for and won a valued seat at the Washington, D.C. table as the debate over health reform intensified. And, as key health reform decisions are made in the nation’s capital and in statehouses across the country in the coming weeks and months, AOA will continue working to advance pro-access, pro-patient solutions aimed at ensuring that doctors of optometry and their patients are treated fairly under health reform and that policymakers and others fully understand the central role that optometrists play in enhanced care delivery and improved health outcomes.

Here are some highlights from “What the health care ruling means to you”  by Josh Levs, CNN:

  • Small business owners:

The rules and benefits small business owners face as a result of the health care law remain in place. As CNN has chronicled, the law brought a mix of both. The director of the National Federation of Independent Business is one of the plaintiffs who pushed the court to strike down the law. Meanwhile, a group called Small Business Majority fought to protect the law, saying its loss could be a nightmare.

As of 2014, under the law, small firms with more than 50 full-time employees would have to provide coverage or face expensive fines.

  • The insured

Because the requirement remains for people to have or buy insurance, the revenue stream designed to help pay for the law remains in place. So insured Americans may be avoiding a spike in premiums that could have resulted if the high court had tossed out the individual mandate but left other requirements on insurers in place.

  • Young adults

Millions of young adults up to age 26 who have gained health insurance due to the law will be able to keep it. The law requires insurers to cover the children of those they insure up to age 26. About 2.5 million young adults from age 19 to 25 obtained health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As mentioned above, two of the nation’s largest insurers, United Healthcare and Humana, recently announced they would voluntarily maintain some aspects of health care reform, including coverage of adult dependents up to age 26, even if the law was scrapped.

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