One big, open legal question about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is whether any of the act could survive a court case that invalidated part of the act.
Peter Marathas, a partner in the Boston office of Proskauer Rose L.L.P. who handles benefits law, says PPACA is attracting the same kind of flurry of litigation that tends to greet the arrival of any important new federal act.
A recent informal search for federal civil rights suits that name Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as a defendant, turned up about a dozen suits challenging PPACA.
Some of the suits getting the most attention include a suit filed in Virginia, by Liberty University; a suit filed in Michigan by the Thomas More Law Center, and a suit filed in Florida by a group of state attorneys general and other public officials.
Most of the plaintiffs contend that the PPACA provision that would require many individuals to own health insurance or else pay a penalty is unconstitutional.
Many components of the Affordable Care Act, such as provisions encouraging standardization of and use of electronic health records, and provisions that would encourage federal health programs such as Medicare to experiment with new strategies for paying for health care, have drawn little negative attention.
Marathas says he gives many groups of employers and insurance brokers Affordable Care Act presentations. At those presentations, “there’s absolutely nobody sitting in the room that believes
American citizens should lose their homes because they have cancer,” Marathas says.
Regulators at the HHS, the Internal Revenue Service and the Labor Department seem to be doing a good job of trying to respond to the concerns of interested parties, including employers, insurers and brokers, about implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Marathas says.
But, when employers look at the Affordable Care Act, they see there is very little in the act that can cut their benefits costs and many provisions that could increase costs, Marathas says.
Employers have grave concerns about provisions that will require many to provide health coverage in 2014 or pay a penalty, and concerns about other provisions that will set minimum standards for health insurance but could also make coverage more expensive. Employers and brokers have been trying to find ways to ease the burden of those provisions.
The PPACA individual health insurance mandate has provoked a more emotional response.