Supreme Court Says “Yes” To Obamacare

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in a landmark decision that will have implications for all Americans, their employers and federal benefits programs.

Reports are calling the decision a “victory” for the president, even though the individual mandate is not expected to be enforced in the way it was initially intended.

“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the ruling.

The home health care industry stands to face cuts in Medicare reimbursements, although exact details have yet to be determined. Medicaid, too, is poised for impact.

“The decision did significantly restrict one major portion of the law: the expansion of Medicaid, the government health-insurance program for low-income and sick people, giving states more flexibility,” the New York Times reported Thursday. “…The restriction of the Medicaid expansion could limit the federal government’s ability to alter other federally financed state programs.”

According to recent reports, including a report by Bloomberg News, the home health industry could lose 11% in revenus over the next eight years, due to Medicare changes.

Health care industry representatives began to release statements on the decision early Thursday.

“The health reform law upheld by the Supreme Court simplifies administrative burdens, including streamlining insurance claims, so physicians and their staff can spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork. It protects those in the Medicare ‘donut hole,’ including the 5.1 million Medicare patients who saved significantly on prescription drugs in 2010 and 2011. These important changes have been made while maintaining our American system with both private and public insurers,” said Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association, in a statement.

Changes to Medicare Advantage could mean that fewer people are enrolled overall, but that they will be seeking alternatives.

View the decision.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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