President Obama scored a major victory today when the Supreme Court ruled to uphold his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. In a 5-4 decision, the Courts explained that the individual mandate, the most controversial part of the law, is constitutional because it amounts to a tax on those who don’t purchase health insurance. Obviously, taxing is something that the legislative branch has the power to do.
Because the individual mandate was upheld, the entire law was deemed constitutional, as well as the expansion of Medicaid. The only part of the measure that will be altered by the Supreme Court’s ruling is that individual states will not lose all of their Medicaid funds if they choose not to expand as the ACA would like them to. They can only lose new funding should they choose not to comply with the new law.
So how will the court ruling affect businesses around the country? To get an educated answer, we talked to Chris Rylands, an attorney with Bryan Cave LLP, who outlined what happened in the ruling and what businesses need to do to prepare themselves for the law to take effect.
The first thing to remember is that some of the provisions within the healthcare overall have already gone into effect. Companies have been preparing for the law since its passage in 2010. Rylands confirms, “Most businesses have been getting ready. With provisions starting in 2011, you couldn’t wait to find out what the ruling was. At that point in time, it wasn’t guaranteed to go before the Supreme Court at all. Some companies might have hit pause after the oral arguments in March. But now that they know the answer, they can press play again and start getting going.”
What exactly do the businesses need to focus on? Well the immediate issue is that summaries of benefits and coverage are due for the first open enrollment beginning on or after September 23. Chris tells us, “Aside from that and other minor changes, there isn’t a whole lot that will change for companies or employees between now and 2014. Once we have the insurance exchanges, individual mandates and company mandates in effect in 2014, that’s when people will start to make decision.”