Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Reform Law

June 28, 2012 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

U.S. Supreme Court BuildingBy Jessica Webb-Ayer

The wait is over: The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that the massive healthcare reform law (also known as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) enacted in March 2010 is constitutional. So what happened, and what does this mean for employers?

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Departments Issue Final Summary of Benefits and Coverage Regulations

February 20, 2012 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

Employers have a new health care reform deadline to add to their calendars. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of the Treasury issued final regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are intended to help:

  • individuals easily understand their health coverage and be able to pick their best coverage options; and
  • employers determine what the best coverage option is for their businesses and their employees.

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Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Health Care Reform in 2012

November 16, 2011 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 1 COMMENTS

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear a challenge to the massive health care reform law (also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA) enacted in March 2010. The Court revealed how important it considers this case by scheduling five and a half hours of oral arguments, when it usually schedules only an hour for oral arguments.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from a decision by the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the only appellate court to rule that any part of the PPACA is unconstitutional. In August, the Eleventh Circuit held 2-1 that the individual mandate, which would require most individuals to obtain health insurance or pay a fine, exceeded the power of the U.S. Congress under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. According to the majority opinion, “This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives.”

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HHS Indicates CLASS Act Not ‘Viable’

October 25, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The Obama administration’s health care reform legislation suffered an apparent casualty last week when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicated it wouldn’t pursue implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program (also known as the CLASS Act). In a letter to the U.S. Congress about the CLASS Act, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that she did “not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.” Sebelius came to this conclusion after the HHS reviewed a comprehensive analysis of the CLASS program.

The CLASS Act was a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that was designed to create better long-term-care insurance options for individuals. According to the law, all CLASS benefits had to be completely funded through enrollee premiums without any taxpayer subsidy. The legislation also mandated that the program must be actuarially sound and financially solvent for 75 years.

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Up to $3,000 in Monthly Premiums! Why Long-Term-Care Insurance Plan Failed

October 20, 2011 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

The Obama administration’s health care reform legislation suffered an apparent casualty last week when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicated it wouldn’t pursue implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program (also known as the CLASS Act). In a letter to the U.S. Congress about the CLASS Act, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that she did “not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.” Sebelius came to this conclusion after the HHS reviewed a comprehensive analysis of the CLASS program.

The CLASS Act was a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that was designed to create better long-term-care insurance options for individuals. According to the law, all CLASS benefits had to be completely funded through enrollee premiums without any taxpayer subsidy. The legislation also mandated that the program must be actuarially sound and financially solvent for 75 years.

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Health Care Reform Law Moves One Step Closer to Supreme Court

September 29, 2011 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

The Obama administration surprised many yesterday when the U.S. Department of Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a decision by the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that the health insurance mandate provision found in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the comprehensive health care reform legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law in March 2010, is unconstitutional.

In August, the Eleventh Circuit held 2-1 that the individual mandate, which would require most individuals to obtain health insurance or pay a fine, exceeded the power of the U.S. Congress under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. According to the majority opinion, “This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives.”

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Appeals Court Holds Part of Health Care Reform Law Unconstitutional

August 17, 2011 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 2 COMMENTS

On Friday, August 12, the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta held 2-1 that the individual health insurance mandate provision found in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the comprehensive health care reform legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law in March 2010, is unconstitutional. More specifically, the court found that the individual mandate, which would require most individuals to obtain health insurance or pay a fine, exceeded the power of the U.S. Congress under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

According to the majority opinion, “this economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives.”

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Departments Issue PPACA Regulations on Waivers for State Innovation

March 15, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury recently issued proposed new regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that outline the steps states must take to acquire Waivers for State Innovation. Under the PPACA, in 2017, states will be able to ask for such waivers to allow them to come up with their own ways to improve health care and offer comparable coverage.

While addressing the National Governors Association, President Barack Obama recently endorsed legislation that would allow states to begin asking for Waivers for State Innovation in 2014 when important parts of the PPACA go into effect. The bill would allow states to opt out of certain controversial provisions such as the individual mandate and the employer coverage requirement as long as they could prove that their alternative meets the PPACA’s objectives.

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Senate Votes Down Health Care Reform Repeal Legislation

February 03, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On Wednesday, February 2, the U.S. Senate voted 51-47 against a largely symbolic amendment that would repeal the health care reform legislation enacted last year. (The amendment was to an unrelated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding bill.) Senate Republicans unanimously backed the amendment, which would have repealed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but no Democrats voted in favor of the measure.

Even if the Senate had approved the repeal amendment, it was unlikely to move much further since President Barack Obama had previously indicated that he would veto it. The Senate did, however, pass another amendment to the FAA bill that would repeal a tax-reporting provision found in the PPACA by an 81-17 vote.

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Second Court Rules Health Care Reform Law Is Unconstitutional

February 01, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 1 COMMENTS

Monday, January, 31, another federal court — the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida — held that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is unconstitutional. More specifically, the court held that the individual health insurance mandate provision found in the PPACA, which would require most individuals to obtain health insurance or pay a fine, is unconstitutional, and since it can’t be severed from the PPACA as a whole, “the entire Act must be declared void.”

In reaching the decision, the court first addressed whether the individual mandate was an appropriate exercise of power under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court determined that “activity” is required before the U.S. Congress can exercise its power under the clause and that the failure to buy health insurance isn’t “activity” but “inactivity.” The court noted, “To now hold that Congress may regulate the so-called ‘economic decision’ to not purchase a product or service in anticipation of future consumption is a ‘bridge too far.’ It is without logical limitation and far exceeds the existing legal boundaries established by Supreme Court precedent.”

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