As the Tennessee Medical Association puts it, there is now a "certain finality" to the Affordable Care Act following the Supreme Court decision upholding the law. A huge win for the Obama administration, the decision yesterday was like kicking a hornet's nest among conservatives. The Christian Medical Association said the decision "sounds an alarm across the country to people with faith-based and pro-life convictions" and called on Congress to repeal the law.
An article in Modern Physician characterizes the response among physicians as "mixed," but the vast majority of our MD, DO, PA and RN contacts have come down strongly in favor of the law, in one case saying "The government did something right... 50 million healthier Americans is going to look pretty good here in a few years."
Whichever political side one is on, it is now clear that work can move forward on implementing the law. The Tennessee Medical Association's statement concluded "Today's decision allows us to make more definitive plans regarding reforms to our healthcare system in Tennessee." The sentiment seems to be fairly widespread through the provider side of the industry.
Some states - among them our own Oklahoma - elected to refuse federal funding ($54 million in Oklahoma's case) to establish health insurance exchanges. The decision, taken on the part of Governor Mary Fallin, appears to have been politically motivated, but Oklahoma is, in fact, developing an exchange, without the federal dollars. An agency head, speaking with an Oklahoma radio station, said "It would have been good to have the money, so we could have a more user friendly and effective system, but we'll have something, anyway."
The justices struck down provisions in the law that would empower the federal government to force states to comply with the planned Medicaid expansion or lose all of their Medicaid funding. Now states will be eligible for basic Medicare funding even if they choose not to accept the additional dollars to provide expanded care. Numerous states have sworn to refuse expanded Medicaid funding, but it remains to be seen whether any will ultimately deny this added coverage for hundreds of thousands of their citizens. The federal dollars are being offered with no required match for three years. Medicaid is often one of the biggest lines in states' budgets, and that share is growing as healthcare costs continue to rise.