On January 19th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 245-189 on H.R. 2, a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This, combined with the introduction of H.R. 9, indicates that, while these actions appear to be symbolic in nature (due to the lack of traction it is expected to have in the Senate and President Obama's commitment to veto), the political battle surrounding the Health Care Reform and the Affordable Care Act will continue to heat up.
The law is going to continue to evolve and change, making it essential for plans to have reliable, flexible partners to help them adhere to the new regulations and stay ahead of changes. As news continues to pour out of Washington, I will continue to deliver news, reactions, analysis and potential repercussions via the Merrill Healthcare Blog.
As an example, below are excerpts from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's remarks in reaction to the vote (Healthcare plans should pay specific attention to her last quote):
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Americans are finally getting the freedom and security they deserve in their health care."
“Over the last ten months, I have seen firsthand how the law is making a difference in Americans' lives, from establishing a new Patient’s Bill of Rights that outlaws some of the worst insurance company abuses to beginning the process of ending insurance company discrimination against the 129 million Americans with pre-existing health conditions."
“If the law were repealed, these protections would be taken away, and America’s seniors would lose important new Medicare benefits, including savings on their prescription drugs and new health and wellness benefits."
“A recent analysis by our Department shows that the Affordable Care Act will sharply reduce the cost of health insurance for millions of Americans. A family of four making $55,000 is projected to save $6,000 a year in 2014. For a working family with a $33,000 income, the savings could be up to $10,000 – the difference between being able to afford health insurance and going without it.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act would raise health insurance costs for families, add to our federal deficit, put control back in the hands of insurance companies, and take away the freedom and health security being realized by millions of Americans. That would be the wrong direction for our country, and would be disastrous for the health and well-being of American families.”
“Finally, I want the people who are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act – including families, seniors, and small business owners – to know that this vote does not change the law and that this Department will continue to work every day to implement this vital law.”
Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. Pam can be contacted at Pamela.Argeris@merrillcorp.com.