The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Explained
Thursday, July 19, 2012 12:00 AM


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

There is an incredible amount of information floating around regarding the Health Care ruling passed down by the Supreme Court in June 2012. We compiled the best resources we had found in to a single resource for quick and easy answers to questions.

The official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but it will be hereafter referred to as the ACA. The bill was signed in to law on March 23, 2010, and is halfway through its four-year “roll out” period. The roll out period is a comprehensive four-year schedule of when certain aspects of the bill are put in to effect. You can view this timeline at www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline. The ACA contains nine titles (or chapters), each addressing a major area of reform:

  1. Quality, Affordable Care for All Americans
  2. The Role of Public Programs
  3. Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Health Care
  4. Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health
  5. Health Care Workforce
  6. Transparency and Program Integrity
  7. Improving Access to Innovative Medical Therapies
  8. Community Living Assistance Services and Supports
  9. Revenue Provisions

To review a synopsis and key points of one of these titles, you can download a PDF summary or review key points regarding Rights and Procedures, Employers, Over Age 65, Insurance Choices and Concerns at www.healthcare.gov/law/features. Alternately, the full text of the law is available at housedocs.house.gov.

Most recently, the law was brought before the Supreme Court in order to determine whether or not it was constitutional. In a ruling at the end of June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that the law was constitutional, that the financial penalty on Americans that did not have health insurance should be considered a tax, and that a tax is constitutional.  The only portion of the law not upheld by the Supreme Court is with regard to Medicaid and Medicare; the court ruled that the expansion of both of those programs is optional on a state-by-state basis. This means that states can or cannot implement them as they see fit. Comprehensive reporting about the rulings can be found online at nytimes.com and wsj.com.

The ACA will mean completely different for every business and for every person. To look into how it will impact you personally or in the workplace, you can refer to this online tool, which is broken down by demographic.

Whether this is a positive or negative policy is dependent entirely on who you ask. The Wall Street Journal published a feature about two entrepreneurs making the case for an opposite side. The impact will be determined entirely by a multitude of factors, including but not limited to age, state of residence, and income.

Lastly, a large part of understanding the policy is understanding the history behind it. The independent investigative journalism website, ProPublica, has compiled a reading list of relevant articles and the links to read them. They also designed a very informative flow chart, mapping the answers to the most common questions.