Moving Toward Implementation of the Affordable Care Act

Posted on May 1st 2013 by Jason Altmire

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In my previous blog post on health care reform, I discussed some of the political and policy decisions that were made during the 2009-10 debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the implications that those decisions had in the drafting of the bill that became law. In the months and years since enactment of the ACA, many of those decisions were challenged both in the court of public opinion and in courts of law. Indeed, the past three years since enactment of the Affordable Care Act have been politically tumultuous and seemingly every aspect of the law has been dissected, analyzed and debated. November 2010 brought historic election results that were widely viewed as a referendum on the new health care law, as Democrats in Congress were swept out off office in numbers not seen in more than 70 years. The new Republican majority in the U.S. House then spent the next two years repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, trying to repeal the ACA. In tandem, Attorneys General in dozens of states joined together to challenge the constitutionality of the law in legal proceedings that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law and President Obama was reelected as Democrats increased their numbers in Congress. Efforts to repeal the law have stalled and now even the most vocal opponents of the ACA have accepted that it is the law of the land and is here to stay. Today, public support for the law remains mixed and the issue has temporarily fallen off the nation's political radar. However, furious activity has been taking place in Washington and in the States as work continues to prepare for full scale implementation of the law, beginning in January 2014 when most of the well-known insurance reforms take effect. Later this year, on October 1, the health insurance marketplaces (formerly called "exchanges") are scheduled to open for business and individual consumers all across America will be able to compare options and choose their health insurance plans for next year. Florida Blue has been actively involved in discussions with decision-makers on Capitol Hill, in the White House and Administration, and in Tallahassee to make clear the challenges insurers face in implementing the various complex provisions of the law. During these discussions we have made constructive recommendations that we believe would help lower the cost of health care for consumers and make the transition to the new system go more smoothly. We are also working with policy makers and regulators at all levels to improve the law by making changes that would lower the cost of insurance for all Americans. The law as written imposes many new taxes, fees and rating restrictions that will result in higher premiums for consumers in the health care marketplace. In my next blog post I will discuss in detail these provisions as well as what Florida Blue has been doing to lower the cost of care through private market payment reforms and new partnerships in Florida's delivery system. We continue to work with Washington decision makers to try to reduce the cost burden imposed by the ACA and to help make the implementation go more smoothly, but make no mistake -- we want the law to succeed. We believe in the goals of the law, to make health care more accessible and affordable, and we will continue to engage policy makers on what changes we believe could be made to help better achieve those goals. We will also continue to adapt our business model to the ever-changing market so that we can continue to carry out our mission -- to help people and communities achieve better health. Image courtesy of Stripedtiger on Flickr   This information is for illustrative purposes only and is being provided to help increase understanding of the impacts of some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It does not attempt to cover all of the law’s provisions and is not intended as tax or legal advice.

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Jason Altmire

Jason Altmire is the Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Government and Community Affairs at Florida Blue. He is a former Congressman from Pennsylvania and served from 2007 to 2013. While in the U.S. Congress, Jason was a nationally recognized leader in health care policy. A graduate of Florida State University and George Washington University, where he received his MHA, Jason now lives in Jacksonville with his wife and two children.

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