Anticipating the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Health Reform

by Robert on June 14, 2012

We’re only days away from one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care in decades, and our Lockton Health Reform Advisory Practice has distributed an important advisory I wanted to pass on to you.

The constitutionality of the health reform law’s individual mandate—the provision requiring virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance—is in question, and may determine what happens next with health reform.

What the Court Might Decide

The Court could may decide the individual mandate is constitutional, or may conclude that it’s unconstitutional, but allow the vast majority of the remainder of the law to survive in tact, in which case health reform implementation would continue largely unabated. We’re 18 months away from implementation of the law’s most substantive provisions, such as the employer play-or-pay mandate, and the pace of federal guidance and other implementation efforts will accelerate significantly from there.

The Court could might also decide the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and throw out the entire health reform law with it. The consequences of this would be immediate and sweeping, sending Congress and the federal agencies implementing health reform into high gear to determine how quickly and completely health plans and insurers might transition back to the pre-health reform status quo. Group plan sponsors will have many plan design decisions to consider, and may want to pull the plug on some administrative initiatives currently underway, such as W-2 reporting of health plan values and issuing Summaries of Benefits and Coverage.

Leveraging our health reform expertise

We’re standing by to guide you through the compliance and business implications of health care reform. Whatever the Court decides, our health reform experts will interpret the outcome and provide you with the wisdom you need to make quality decisions for your workforce and organization:

“Under any of the possible outcomes, employers are going to have to make some quick, informed decisions about how best to react to the Court’s decision,” says Lockton’s Senior Vice President and Director of Compliance Services Mark C. Holloway.

We’re counseling our clients to be cautious, and to not react too quickly to plan design changes that might later be overturned. For example, if the Court finds the entire law unconstitutional Congress is expected to pass legislation preserving many aspects of health reform law that have already been implemented, such as allowing coverage of children through age 26 as a non-taxable benefit.

We’re here to help: Sign up to receive health reform updates on our Lockton Health Reform Advisory Practice blog, and please don’t hesitate to contact me at RRuotolo@lockton.com with any questions about the effects of health reform on your organization.

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