What Happens Now that ‘ObamaCare' Has Cleared its Final Hurdle? (Opinion)

by Tom Hayes  on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 8:36 am  

Whether you fall into the category of serial procrastinator or forlorn political prognosticator, reality has to be sinking in at this point. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is here to stay.

President Obama’s eponymous first-term legislative achievement cleared its final hurdle in November, and the largest government program expansion since Social Security and Medicare is 13 months away from full implementation.

Bureaucrats and special-interest groups are working overtime to fill the regulatory gaps in this behemoth, while individuals and employers are scrambling to figure out what it all means.

Otherwise known as health care reform, the new legislation requires:

• Most legal residents to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

• Federal and state creation of insurance “exchanges” whereby qualified individuals and dependents may obtain federal subsidies to reduce the cost of health insurance.

• Expansion of Medicaid to cover individuals and families below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

• Penalties on certain employers who fail to provide minimum health benefits to their employees, and a 40 percent “Cadillac tax” on plans valued greater than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families in 2018.

That’s just for starters.

Virtually every Arkansan will be affected by this law. Depending on your constituency, the mandatory benefit changes could be modest or significant. Constituencies fall under three major groups:

• The largest group is employers and employees, and accounts for roughly 145 million of the nation’s insured.

• The next group — about 40 million Americans — owns individual medical policies. Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries make up the remaining covered population at 47 million and 45 million, respectively.



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