SCOTUS and the PPACA

For several months now, me and millions of other people have been anticipating the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

With controversial topics such as individual mandates, expansion of Medicaid, and the inability to exclude those with pre-existing conditions from health insurance policies, the PPACA has been hotly contested.  Earlier this year, as part of my Health Informatics course, I provided students (who have never had to deal with understanding the economics of health care or how health insurance works) with various support tools, including CNN’s rather awesome storybook video explaining the Act.

After hearing arguments at the end of March, SCOTUS has spent the last few months evaluating the legality of these various components, particularly the individual mandate requiring individuals to buy insurance or pay a penalty and the Medicaid expansion. As a quick civics lesson, SCOTUS does “not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions” (Roberts, 2).

In short, SCOTUS ruled as such

  1. Survived: The individual mandate by considering the mandate as a Tax
  2. Survived: Covering young adults until the age of 26 through their parent’s insurance
  3. Tweaked: Medicaid expansion – if States do not expand, they risk losing new funding, not all funding
  4. Survived: The rest of the Act survived since the mandate was confirmed

In conclusion, the US seems to be making strides towards the Bismarck model of universal health insurance through private insurers. To learn more about how existing Bismarck models work, check out NPR’s coverage of German health care.

In addition to the general excitement about the ruling, I found a teaching lesson to also share with students.  Initially, CNN made the wrong call on the ruling this morning and I had to investigate other sites, such as the SCOTUSblog to get the correct ruling.  Eventually, CNN did post a retraction but a good +30 minutes later.  In short, my information literacy teaching about evaluating resources just got another story to rotate into the mix.

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