Health Reform Delays Just Beginning

by Cathy Miller on January 29, 2013

in Health Care Reform

bigstock-Stopping-Clock-Hands-To-Stop-T-6969159Delays were bound to happen.

Forget the cries for repeal.

Put the name-calling and finger-pointing behind you.

It’s time to face the reality of health care reform.

Even if it is a tad behind schedule.

So Many Tasks – So Little Time

The lion’s share of provisions for health care reform’s Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPACA) were targeted for a 2014 effective date. That meant 2013 was the year of administrative scrambling.

Just look at some of the requirements for 2014.

  • Health insurance exchanges – establishment of federal or state-run health insurance marketplace for individuals and Small business Health Options Plan (SHOP)
  • Individual mandate -the requirement for most individuals to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty
  • Employer mandate – businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees may incur penalties if they do not offer health insurance and at a minimum value of coverage
  • Essential health benefits – small group and individual plans must offer coverage for certain essential health benefits

There are additional PPACA provisions with a 2014 effective date, but you get the idea.

A lot to accomplish in less than a year.

One Deadline Down

In the overall scheme of things, the decision was an easy one.

PPACA regulations included an assessment by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the readiness of the states to operate the online markets of the health insurance exchanges.

Simple answer – the states are not ready.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced she would waive or extend the deadline for states who chimed in for state or federally-operated exchanges.

The New York Times reported the secretary advised states “they had until Feb. 15 to file applications to operate exchanges in partnership with the federal government.”

The hope is the delay will also allow other states to get their administrative ducks in a row.

Deadline Number Two

Adapting a wait and see attitude towards health care reform had many employers panicking over elections results.

Their first major PPACA hurdle had a March 1, 2013 effective date. The requirement held employers responsible for notifying employees in writing about the availability of health insurance exchanges.

Tough to do when the health insurance exchanges are not ready.

Put that deadline on indefinite hold.

Expect Delays

Like any new legislation, what’s enacted often bears little resemblance to the original.

  • HHS is still working on the final rule for essential health benefits
  • Legislators are still battling within their own states on whether or not to run an exchange
  • There has been a flurry of mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry in preparation for PPACA

PPACA has some major obstacles ahead. It’s a safe bet you can expect even more delays.

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Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney or health care provider and cannot provide legal or health care advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal or health care advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel and visit your physician for health care issues.

 

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