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
In March, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a two day workshop to "study certain activities and trends that may affect competition in the evolving health care industry." In addition, the FTC requested comment on a very broad range of related issues (the breadth of questions can be examined in this Federal Register notice). AOTA staff attended the workshop, and submitted comments independently and by signing onto the Coalition for Patients' Rights' letter. AOTA's letter (available for download below) sought to broaden the FTC's conception of price transparency in an effort to expand awareness of the often inadequate and inaccurate information about health insurance coverage available to consumers. AOTA policy staff have identified a number of instances where information about coverage of therapy services for plans sold on the new health insurance marketplaces has been inadequate for consumers to make informed choices, or just plain inaccurate. AOTA is working with state associations to advocate for improvements, but also is engaged in broader advocacy efforts at the federal level, including by taking this opportunity to communicate with the FTC.