Political Games Over Health Care Policy Will Resume Once Supreme Court Rules on the Mandate; Employers Need to Figure Out Endgame

May 18, 2012

For the past several months, many of our members have been forced to put strategic planning for health care on hold, waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the outcome of the November elections.  However, no matter which way its ruling goes, the high court's decision on the individual mandate will likely trigger a resumption of the Congressional debate over the legislation, but this time with Speaker Boehner instead of Rep. Nancy Pelosi leading the debate in the House.  At issue will be what to keep in PPACA, what to tweak, and what to jettison.  While the Obama campaign is avoiding discussion of the new health care law, House Republicans want to put the issue in play this summer.  Many in the party are seeking an outright repeal by the GOP, but others have concluded that while the individual mandate is highly unpopular, there are some provisions that will be difficult to rescind.  Those include requiring children remain on their parents' health care plans until age 26, forcing insurance companies to provide coverage to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, and keeping the Medicare "donut hole" closed.  In a meeting this week with the House Republican Conference, Speaker Boehner gave a preview of the agenda that he will push, one dealing with focused issues, saying: "When the Court rules, we will be ready."  However, those advocating complete repeal took strong issue with that plan.  Governor Romney's campaign will soon launch his first general election TV ad describing what he will do on his first day in office if elected President, which will include an executive order giving all 50 states waivers from PPACA.  Would that be the first step towards letting each state go its own way on health care?  What this all means for the business community is that we need to begin in earnest figuring out what the long-term objectives of major employers are, so that while all the political games are being played out over the next few years, public policy is moving in the desired direction.  Much more coming from us on this in the weeks ahead.