The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to simply as the ACA or Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The ACA is intended to expand access to health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured Americans by expanding eligibility for Medicaid and developing health insurance marketplaces where uninsured persons may be eligible for subsidies to make private health plans more affordable. While expanding access to health insurance is a big part of the ACA, there are many other purposes of the law, including provisions intended to reform the health care delivery system to produce better patient outcomes at lower cost.
AOTA was very active in the legislative process leading up to the passage and signing of the ACA, working to achieve victories such as inclusion of rehabilitation and habilitation in the essential health benefits package. AOTA has also been monitorting the regulatory process at the federal and state levels as the ACA has been implemented, and has been advocating for occupational therapy practitioners and consumers. The dynamic environment created by health care reform creates opportunities, but vigilant monitoring of implementation activities and carefully executed advocacy efforts are necessary to ensure occupational therapy is valued and protected in the future.
Please also see the Health Care Reform Implementation page on AOTA's website at: http://www.aota.org/Advocacy-Policy/Health-Care-Reform.aspx
Things are about to get complicated. On October 1, 2013, health insurance exchanges, now often referred to as marketplaces, are scheduled to be open to start enrolling people in health plans for next year. On January 1, 2014, most of the provisions of the ACA will be in effect, including a variety of new health insurance regulations, and in some states, Medicaid eligibility expansions. For the rest of this year and the beginning of next, there are likely to be a few bumps in the road as all these new programs and systems are rolled out. There is certain to be a lot of political rhetoric and rumors flying every which way. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just released a couple simple fact sheets that may help clear up some of the confusion.
10 Things Providers Need to Know
10 Things to Tell Your Patients