Inside This Issue - Opinion
High Court should weigh in on health care reform
October 10th, 2011
Whatever one thinks of the health care reform legislation, whose most far-reaching provisions are due to take effect in 2014, it should be welcome news that the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to consider the ongoing legal challenges to the law.
The Justice Department late last month decided to bypass an appeal of a decision rejecting the so-called individual mandate to the full 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta. A panel of three judges from the court earlier found that requiring people to obtain health insurance or face tax penalties violates the Constitution.
If the Supreme Court does review the ruling or other challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are now progressing through the federal court system, its decision should end many of the nagging doubts that have surrounded implementation of the law. Questions about the constitutionality of the act’s financial base have confused a lot of citizens, and bedeviled government officials, health care providers and insurers.
All sides agree that much is at stake. The most sweeping change in the nation’s health care system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid promises to bring more than 30 million additional people into the ranks of the insured. In its filing with the Supreme Court, the Justice Department characterizes the situation as a “matter of grave national importance”; attorneys for 26 states contesting the law use the same adjective.
For those involved in community pharmacy a Supreme Court ruling (which — if, as anticipated, the justices do decide to hear the case — is expected before June 2012) would free them to concentrate on gearing their business model to what the realities on the ground will look like in 2014. A swing of some 30 million patients one way or the other would obviously have a considerable impact on staffing and other resources.
Executives involved in the pharmacy profession are eager to see the doubts about the Affordable Care Act put to rest and secure a firm foundation on which to construct a more far-reaching role for community pharmacy.
It is often said that one thing business people don’t like is uncertainty. By stepping in and settling the legal aspects of health care reform, the Supreme Court would give pharmacy operators and other health care providers one of the essential elements they need as they work to figure out how to better serve patients and contain health care costs.