More to Washington in 2012 than high court ruling,election results
Future of reform and direction of healthcare policy will hinge on rulings from Supreme Court, nation’s voters
The nation’s healthcare system faces another major policy fork in 2012 as a U.S. Supreme Court case and a national election will decide whether the 2010 federal healthcare overhaul continues, major portions are eliminated, or the entire law is scrapped.
The potential for significant upheaval from either a Supreme Court rejection of the law or repeal by a newly elected Republican Congress and president has left many healthcare policy leaders nervous. But several insist a major rejection in 2012 is unlikely.
What is certain is that this year will bring a slate of major new regulations implementing the healthcare law, including requirements states must meet to create health insurance exchanges. State exchanges—or a federal version in states that fail to act—are a central linchpin of the law and their status remains uncertain.
The leading 2012 healthcare policy discussions that have nothing to do with the 2010 law revolve around congressional plans to address the Medicare physician payment formula, formally known as the sustainable growth-rate formula, and automatic deficit-reduction cuts slated to begin in 2013 as a result of inaction last year by the congressional supercommittee.
On the first item, Congress delayed a 27.4% Medicare pay cut for the first two months of the year, but legislators will need to address that and several other expiring payment provisions. On the second issue, providers hope to persuade lawmakers to find offsets that avert the need for provider cuts of up to 2% under a deficit-reduction scheme Congress approved in 2011.
Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, says the immediate challenge for hospitals in this year will be the contentious SGR formula for physicians that lawmakers will revisit.
“We are against arbitrary policy robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Kahn says, referring to a decision to pay for the physician payment fix by cutting reimbursements to hospitals. “It
U.S. Supreme Court justices have given an unprecedented amount of time—more than five hours— for oral arguments in challenges to
the Affordable Care Act.