Supreme Court Ruling Just the Beginning

June 28, 2012 ( – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) still faces a contentious political outlook, a provider alert contends.

Amy Bergner, Barbara McGeoch and Geoff Manville of Mercer’s Washington Resource Group, said the decision does not end political and policy debate about health care reform; what direction the law will take depends on the outcome of November’s elections. Re-election of President Obama would keep the law more or less on track, while GOP control of the White House and more Senate seats could spell the end for much or all of the law.   

The ruling puts pressure on Republicans to spell out a detailed reform agenda as part of their campaign platform, the alert authors stated. A key issue to watch is whether the GOP reprises past proposals to eliminate the employee tax exclusion for employer-provided health benefits and replace it with new tax incentives to help individuals buy health insurance on their own, they added.  

“Today’s ruling marks a milestone in the discussion of health care in America, but the Affordable Care Act is just the beginning of the process,” said Michael Wilson, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) CEO.  “Even with the ACA being upheld, many of our members are still in a wait-and-see mode until after this fall’s presidential election.”  

A recent IFEBP survey found one-third of employers are taking a “wait-and-see” approach to health care reform, and more than half of those (52.1%) are awaiting the outcome of the 2012 elections (see “Employers Adjusting for Additional Costs from PPACA”).  

“We’re at the beginning of the process, much like when ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) was enacted in 1974, and almost forty years later we’re still working through that process and modifying that law,” said Wilson. “I would expect the health care law to undergo the same process and we will probably still be working on it in 30 years.”