New year means new challenges for health care law
Legal challenges still lie ahead for the health care law. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, acting Tuesday night on a request from an order of Catholic nuns in Colorado, blocked implementation of portions of the law that would have forced some religion-affiliated organizations to provide health insurance for employees that includes birth control. Several other Catholic groups won similar stays in the lower courts.
Although the stated goal of the law was to cover the uninsured, at least 4.7 million insured people had individual policies canceled because they didn’t measure up to new requirements. That forced an apology from the president, who had famously promised that if you like your health plan, you can keep it. The administration says it believes most of those people have secured new coverage.
Americans with job-based health plans are also worried. A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that most people who’ve seen their employers scale back coverage blame that on Obama’s law, even though businesses were shifting health costs to workers before the law passed.
The nation’s divisive debate over health care could go on for years. Having failed to repeal the entire law, Republicans may start targeting pieces of it, such as a Medicare cost control board, or various taxes.
For now, administration officials say they are just focused on getting through the March 31 end of open enrollment. People who enroll by that date will not face the law’s tax penalty for remaining uninsured.
The administration and its supporters are also planning a big push to get younger, healthy uninsured people to sign up, key to the law’s long-term success.