The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) released its latest webcast in which Peter Thomas, JD, discussed how healthcare is playing an outsized role in the 2020 election on November 3 and urged all members of the O&P profession to vote.
One of the dominant campaign themes has been healthcare, including the national response to the pandemic and the threat to health care access through challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Biden campaign offers extensive detail on healthcare policy, including reducing the age to 60 (from 65) for individuals eligible to join the Medicare program, establishment of a public option for the uninsured to obtain health insurance in order to drive down the cost of healthcare while enhancing access, bolstering existing aspects of the ACA, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and coordination of a national plan to combat the pandemic.
The Trump campaign did not issue a policy platform, but Thomas said the administration would likely continue efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs, limit surprise medical bills, provide greater transparency in healthcare pricing, implement additional reductions in regulatory burdens on healthcare providers, and argue before the Supreme Court that the ACA is invalid and should be entirely struck down.
A lower Texas court determined that the ACA is invalid because Congress eliminated the monetary penalty for failure to satisfy the individual insurance mandate that is critical to achieving near universal coverage, which accompanies protections from pre-existing conditions, community rating, non-discrimination based on health status, protection from lifetime and annual caps, and other provisions. If there is no monetary penalty for failing to have insurance, the Texas court argued, then Congress’ authority to pass the ACA based on its taxing power is invalid. The lower court struck down the entire 1,100-page law but the result was stayed until the Supreme Court could hear the case.
The Supreme Court case is scheduled to begin arguments on November 10, and a decision will be rendered in June 2021. At stake are insurance protections that impact millions of Americans, as well as healthcare coverage for 20 million people from expanded Medicaid and private insurance under the health insurance exchanges.
Despite the expected conservative majority hearing the case, there is a real chance the court will not strike down the entire ACA, Thomas said. He said that the real question before the court is whether the individual mandate can be severed from the existing law while the rest of the law survives. This is the most likely outcome, but there are no guarantees with any case before the highest court, he said.