Focus on Health Care Reform Webinar Series
Implementation of the health care reform law now appears to be a certainty. We have already begun to see a flood of regulations creating new rules around the law’s implementation requirements, most of which will occur in 2013 and 2014.
In order to meet the burgeoning needs and concerns of our clients, the Hunton & Williams Health Care Reform team will be presenting a series of webinars over the coming months.
Our most recent webinar recording may be found here: Health Care Reform Is Here to Stay — What Do Employers Do Now?
Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act. On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Nat'l Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the constitutional challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”). The Court held:
- The individual mandate (PPACA § 5000A) is not a tax for purposes of the federal Anti-Injunction Act (“AIA”), so the AIA did not preclude the Court from reaching the merits of the constitutional challenges.
- "The Federal Government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance" because such a command is not a valid exercise of Congress’s powers under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.
- "The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance," and because the individual mandate (PPACA § 5000A) can "reasonably be read as a tax," it is constitutional.
- PPACA's expansion of the Medicaid program is constitutional, but the withholding of all federal Medicaid funding from States that choose not to participate in such expansion is not constitutional and the Federal Government is precluded from enforcing such a sanction.
Lawyers, scholars and pundits will be parsing the decision for weeks (if not years) to come. Whatever one may conclude about the analysis supporting the result, the Court's decision brings over two years of speculation and uncertainty to a close. Those subject to PPACA who adopted a wait-and-see attitude to implementation must now move to comply with the law's requirements, and providers who would participate in PPACA's myriad programs and payment reforms can take comfort in knowing that such programs will not be invalidated by the Court. The biggest change flowing from the decision is that the States will be able to decline to participate in the Act's expansion of the Medicaid program without jeopardizing current federal Medicaid funding.
The United States has entered an era of sweeping federal health care reform, now implemented through three key pieces of legislation:
- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (enacted March 23, 2010)
- amendments to it contained in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (enacted March 30, 2010)
- the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (enacted February 17, 2009, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)
These reforms will fundamentally transform the health care payment and delivery systems in the United States.
This transformation will be a marathon, not a sprint. While some changes will be effective in the short term, the majority are to be implemented gradually over the next several years. During this period, affected industries need legal counsel who understand the issues and their business implications and will provide practical and comprehensive advice. These changes will affect virtually every individual and business.
To address the varied needs of our clients, we have organized a multidisciplinary health reform steering committee composed of leading lawyers who have experience in all related practice areas and are intimately familiar with the law and the regulatory process that is now unfolding. This website—the Hunton & Williams Health Care Reform Center—serves as a comprehensive resource for our clients.