President Barack Obama has won re-election now the nation is awaiting how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will help overhaul the health care industry and expand coverage to millions to uninsured American.
Tom Doney, president of Cypress Benefit Administrators, a Grand Chute-based company, which helps businesses nationally set up health plans, offered his insight on the possible path of the act for business and people moving forward:
What do you expect will happen now that President Obama won re-election?
As it regards health reform, it will basically be status quo for now. The fact that Obama retained the White House and the Democrats kept control over the Senate means that any desire the Republicans had to change the law has been rendered moot.
That said, we're starting to see certain parts of the law being recognized as almost impossible to practically enact in the time that the law calls for, so there will likely be delays and concessions made. Most of PPACA is supposed to be up and running by January 2014. That is looking more and more improbable.
Might some of the complex parts like state exchanges and Medicaid expansion be delayed or watered-down because of the tight time?
Not only would it be an embarrassment, but everyone in big or small ways has been gearing up for Jan. 1, 2014. However, it may end up as the only option. It's a difficult process and an unpredictable turn may happen at any time.
A sign of the slowing progress is that states have been given until Dec. 14 to report to the Department of Health and Human Services if they plan to sponsor a state exchange or not. States say they are still waiting for needed federal guidance to sagely make the decision, and most are leery of jumping into what could be a new budget-busting program that could plague states into the future. Similarly, a delay until Feb. 15 has been given for states to say if they plan to have a federal-state partnership exchange.
Almost every PPACA regulation would have made some groups angry or provide attack-ad ammunition against the Obama reelection, so there was purposely a log-jam leading up to the election. Now the dam is broken, and regulations are being sent to the White House Office of Management & Budget at record pace for clearance to be issued.
The range of regulations you will see being announced in the media shows how broad PPACA is. It's a huge, nasty animal that will be hard to control over the coming 12 months.
What should businesses prepare for?
There are so many things that businesses need to prepare for, they had better find someone, like a TPA or consultant who understands the regulations, and who can help them to ensure compliance. The requirement to publish summary of benefits documents in the prescribed format, required plan changes to eliminate lifetime and annual limits, changing dependent coverage to age 26, adding preventive services without copays or limits, changes to emergency room visit limitations, elimination of pre-existing conditions clauses, additional reporting requirements and so many more requirements under the law will put a lot of pressure on the employer.
Employers will probably have to prepare for additional costs associated with offering health benefits to employees. To say nothing of the coming confusion and misinformation that will be out there.
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