By Ryan Schuster
President Barack Obama’s re-election victory yesterday figures to solidify the future of the Affordable Care Act (also known as ‘Obamacare’). The controversial health law was originally passed in 2010, was upheld by the Supreme Court this summer and the 2012 election will likely prevent the possibility of repealing the law, which former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had promised to do if elected.
While Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives, which has voted more than 30 times to repeal the health care reform law, Democrats maintained a narrow lead in the Senate, blocking the possibility of a repeal passing both houses. As president, Obama can also veto any repeal attempt that reaches his desk (the House and Senate would then each need a two-thirds majority vote in order to override the president’s veto, which doesn’t seem possible given the current makeup of Congress). With a complete repeal of the health law unlikely, Republicans in Congress may attempt to change parts of the law and attack its funding sources. More legal challenges to individual parts of the law are also expected.
While the health reform law has been law since 2010, many of its major provisions won’t go into effect until 2014. Some of the bigger parts of the law, such as state health exchanges, not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing health conditions and the so-called individual mandate that most Americans carry insurance, won’t kick in until 2014. States have until Nov. 16 to notify the federal government if they plan to set up and run their own state health insurance exchange marketplaces under the law, or give up control and allow the government to run their state exchange for them. So far only 13 states and the District of Columbia have told the government they intend to run their own exchanges. North Dakota is among a number of states yet to notify the government of their decision.
The health care reform law is a very complicated law and one that many Americans don’t fully understand. Visit our health reform site to find answers to your questions about how the law could impact you and to read the latest news about the law and its implementation.
Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.