Noteworthy News

Post-Election Diagnosis for Health Care

While President Obama’s re-election probably spells the end of talk of repealing the Affordable Care Act, many questions remain about how – and how completely – the health care reform law passed in 2010 will be implemented.

In the days following the election, observers are asking these and other questions.

In the article “Federal Deficit Talks Could Impact Obama’s Moves on Health Law,” Kaiser Health News speculates about the future of some of the more controversial and expensive aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board; the extensive insurance subsidies for which many Americans will be eligible; the future of the medical device tax; and the law’s provisions that limit the degree to which insurers can charge higher rates for older people.

The Stateline web site looks at the decisions ahead for state governments in the article “Obama Win Means Big Health Care Decisions for States.” Many governors still have not declared whether their state will expand their Medicaid programs – a move required by the Affordable Care Act but made optional by the Supreme Court in a June 2012 decision.

The first issue that will be addressed, though, is state decisions on whether to create their own health insurance exchanges, a key part of the reform law, or let the federal government create those exchanges for them.  States are required to inform the federal government of their intentions by November 16, although it now appears they will be given more time.

Meanwhile, looming over the health care industry is the prospect of sequestration, part of last year’s deficit reduction compromise, that leaves Medicaid untouched but will require a cut of two percent in all Medicare payments beginning on January 1 unless Congress acts to prevent these cuts.  Read more about this in an article from The Hill titled “Sequester Would Cut $11 Billion from Medicare.”iStock_000004661519XSmall

These and other issues are of particular importance to the nation’s private, non-profit urban safety-net hospitals because of the especially large numbers of low-income and publicly insured patients they serve.

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