Law and Regulations: Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act is a relatively new policy in the United States; the new law triggered the changes that took place in the U.S health care system. The Affordable care Act proposes a model of health care founded on prevention and puts an emphasis on primary care. The policy further endorses administration of quality healthcare and finances community health programs and initiatives (Hong, Holcomb, Bhandari, & Larkin, 2016).
The plan was tabled before the first session of the 111th congress by a primary sponsor known as John Dingell of Michigan who was the then Dean of the House. It had been a revision of an earlier version of the same; the proposed American Health Choices Act. The Act otherwise known as Obamacare was signed into Law by President Obama in March 2010. The Act has brought with it a wind of change within the Healthcare system than can only be likened to the inception of Medicare and Medicaid back in the 60s.
The new policy meant that hospitals and primary doctors would change their practices financially. The system would also effect changes clinically and technologically to bring about better health outcomes, reduce the cost of health care and finally to improve upon the current form of distribution and access. The new law and its process of implementation came across challenges in the Congress and the federal courts or justice (Hong, Holcomb, Bhandari, & Larkin, 2016). The law also had to contend with some of the state governments, SMEs, labor associations, and conservative lobby groups. The Supreme Court of the U.S. held up the constitutionality of the Law’s mandate acting as a Congress taxing authority. The court discovered that federal Department of Health could not strong-arm the state governments into implementing the policy.
The purpose of the Act was to raise the level of quality of health insurance and its affordability. It further aimed at reducing the rate of uninsured by enlarging the insurance cover and overall cutting down the cost of health care (Hong, Holcomb, Bhandari, & Larkin, 2016). In trying to achieve its goals, the policy developed strategies like mandates, subsidies, and insurance exchanges. The policy mandated the health insurance companies to accept all the applicants and cover a standard number of conditions. The health insurers were also expected to charge similar amounts despite the preexisting sex conditions.
The new policy will cause a substantially cut down the number of people in the United States that are not covered by any health insurer. Studies by Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that the proportion of Americans who lack health insurance cover plummeted from 16.0% to 8.9% in a period of 5 years. According to Hall & Lord, (2014), millions of uninsured Americans get access to high-quality health care due to the expansion of Medicaid, their employers, and other companies. On the downside, however, the patients are spending lesser time with the doctors and nurses due to the increased number of patients that need quality healthcare. The healthcare personnel has been forced to squeeze the little time available to see all patients thus reducing the time spent per patient.
Gruber (2011) suggests that the policy may have also been good news for the public health department as there has been a general improvement in the health status of communities. Better access to quality care has led to an improvement in the general health condition of the public. People are also able to access a standard range of services and at similar fee further reducing the gender gaps in health statuses of Americans.
Gruber, J. (2011). The Impacts of the Affordable Care Act: How Reasonable Are the Projections?. http://dx.doi.org/10.3386/w17168
Hall, M. & Lord, R. (2014). Obamacare: what the Affordable Care Act means for patients and physicians.BMJ, 349(oct22 7), g5376-g5376. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5376
Hong, Y., Holcomb, D., Bhandari, M., & Larkin, L. (2016). Affordable care act: comparison of healthcare indicators among different insurance beneficiaries with new coverage eligibility. BMC Health Services Research, 16(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12913-016-1362-1