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
The Multi-State Plan Program (MSPP) is another creation of the Affordable Care Act. It requires the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to contract with health insurance carriers to offer health plans on insurance exchanges throughout the country, although the carriers have a number of years before they must offer plans in every state. OPM has administered federal employee health benefits for decades for millions of beneficiaries, and it was just revealed that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has signed a contract with OPM to offer over 150 different health plans in 30 states plus the District of Columbia. As with other plans offered on the exchanges, MSPP plans will have to cover the essential health benefits. AOTA is a member of the Habilitation Benefit Coalition, which has met with OPM officials to advocate for robust coverage of habilitative services, including occupational therapy. This is a positive development for occupational therapy consumers, as some states had only one carrier offering plans on their exchanges. Now consumers in states like West Virginia and New Hampshire will have more choices to access coverage that best meets their needs, and practitioners will not be limited to a single carrier's network.