Health-care law is legal, but enforcement is another issue
The Supreme Court on June 28, 2012, upheld the individual health-insurance mandate at the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, saying the mandate was permissible under Congress’s taxing authority.
Therefore, the health-care law will change the insurance industry in myriad ways in 2014. Some – like the end of preexisting conditions – are really big changes. Others are smaller, like disallowing waiting periods for employer-sponsored insurance and limits on how much insurers can charge their oldest (and likely sickest) patients.
While states have traditionally regulated insurance markets, only 19 have updated their laws to allow them to enforce these new requirements, according to a report from the Commonwealth Foundation. If states don’t move soon, it could have the federal government playing a far larger regulatory role than initially expected.
“We don’t know what capacity the federal government has to enforce these protections,” Georgetown’s Kevin Lucia, a co-author of the study, says. “One way or another this will be the law of the land. It’s really a question of are the states going to do the enforcement, and maintain their traditional role, or will the federal government need to step in.”
Lucia, alongside co-authors Katie Keith and Sabrina Corlette, surveyed states about the steps they’ve taken so far to beef up their regulatory authorities. They found that nearly two-dozen had passed new laws in this arena, allowing them to enforce the new insurance regulations.
But another 22 states responded that, if challenged, they likely would not have the legislative authority to implement the new Obamacare provisions.