Obama's Health Care Law Upheld: What It Means for Home Care

Obama's Health Care Law Upheld: What It Means for Home Care

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Obama’ health care law on Thursday in a 5-4 ruling. The law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and also sometimes called “Obamacare,” was upheld with a deciding vote from Chief Justice Roberts.

Right now, it’s too early to tell how the new law will affect the private-duty home-care industry. It may cause widespread changes to home-health-care agencies and that would change the home-care industry’s relationship with them.

The decision means the health-care overhaul will move forward. The Court decided the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance because they believe it is a tax and Congress has the right to impose taxes. Roberts said in his opinion that "the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition - not owning health insurance - that triggers a tax.”

Before it is known how this will affect the private-duty home-care industry, the IRS now must create a tax code that matches with the new law. All aspects of the law also do not take effect right away – many of the stipulations in the law don’t become required until 2014.

This means the law will take effect as scheduled (unless Congress changes the law in the interim). Among the new rules in the law that take effect in 2014:

  • All individuals (with some religion-based exceptions) are required to buy qualified health insurance or pay a penalty
  • Employers with 50 or more full-time workers (measured as “full time equivalents” – i.e., number of paid hours worked will determine number of full-time workers, not number of people who work full-time) will have to provide qualified affordable health insurance to their full-time workers, or pay an assessment.
  • State and federal exchanges will be established. Individuals without access to affordable qualified health insurance will be allowed to buy qualified health insurance through these exchanges.

A series of new taxes, ranging from a tax on medical devices to a tax on “Cadillac” (overly generous) health insurance plans, are already in place or will begin in upcoming years.

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