Supreme Court Decision
June 28, 2012
Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Reform
National attention has turned to the Supreme Court decision declaring the bulk of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) constitutional. Specifically, the Supreme Court noted that the individual mandate enforcement mechanism can be viewed as a “tax” and as such, falls within the power of Congress to levy taxes. In addition, the Supreme Court noted limitations on the Medicaid expansion under the ACA.
As might be expected, there will be a protracted swirl of activity among the pundits, media and, more importantly, Congress following this landmark decision.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has long relied upon two enduring guideposts when considering policy issues for the hospice and palliative care community. Do the policies in question enhance the quality of care or increase access to end-of-life care for patients and their families? These were our focal points before health reform was brought before Congress, and they served as our measures during the Congressional debate about health care reform and the enactment of the ACA. Now that the Supreme Court has issued its landmark ruling, these factors are only that much more relevant as we enter a new phase of health care delivery system change.
Putting aside the larger impact on the health care system of the Court’s decision, the hospice community is committed to continuously and consistently caring for patients and their families, day in and day out. Our work goes on. Political posturing and longer-term predictions, which are likely to occupy the news in the days ahead, should be left to others.
As it has always been, our responsibility is to our patients and their families.
With respect to the Medicaid provisions, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing a series of updates, in the coming days, weeks and months, explaining how the Court’s decision impacts individual programs and initiatives under their direction. Also, the states are sure to offer guidance on how the Supreme Court’s decision impacts the administration of Medicaid.
CMS is the hospice community's primary regulator and "has the last word" on the implementation of Medicare and shared responsibility on Medicaid laws and regulations. NHPCO suggests that hospice providers continue to prepare for full implementation of the ACA until CMS and the states definitively say otherwise. That advice from CMS and the states is likely to be released in the coming days and weeks. NHPCO will alert you to the changes as they are published and members are encouraged to closely follow each week’s NewsBriefs.
If you desire additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Phone: (703) 837-3153