Winter 2012 News - Analysis
Supreme Court Schedules Oral Argument on PPACA:
The United States Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument on three appeals related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Arguments are set for March 26, 27, and 28, 2012 in the cases of: Nat'l Fed of Indep Bus v. Sebelius, No. 11-393; Dpt of HHS v. Florida, No. 111-398 and Florida v. HHS, No. 111-400. On consecutive days, the Court will consider jurisdictional issues raised under the Anti-injunction Act, the Constitutionality of the individual coverage mandate , the severability of the mandate from the more popular patient protection features of the Acts and a states' argument regarding the forced expansion of the scope of Medicaid coverage. A decision is expected late June or early July, 2012.
Michigan Addresses Unemployment Compensation Funding Issues:
Governor Snyder recently authorized issuance of revenue bonds to pay off Michigan's $3billion federal unemployment insurance debt. This debt accumulated over ten years of high unemployment under which unemployment compensation claims exceeded collection of employer tax revenue. Application of the bond revenue will save the state $117million in interest payments while saving employers from a $270million penalty that would have been assessed by the federal government to offset the federal debt. In this same piece of legislation, changes were made to the unemployment insurance compensation system imposing new worker reporting obligations together with a duty to accept any employment offer that represents payment at a level equal to or greater than 120% of the unemployed person's weekly compensation benefit.
Michigan Tightens Workers Compensation Rules:
In another effort to put people back to work in Michigan, legislation has been enacted changing the definition of a disabling injury and requiring disabled workers to accept alternative employment when injuries prevent a return to that person's prior job.
HHS Punts on Essential Health Benefits Issue:
The Affordable Care Act includes an important feature imposing a uniform, minimum scope of coverage for mandated coverage in the individual and small group insurance markets. The ACA requires health plans in these markets to offer a comprehensive package of services and benefits, known as "essential health benefits". There are ten categories of health services mandated for inclusion, but Congress did not specify types of service, service providers or otherwise address the wide disparity among the states with regard to legislatively mandated health benefits and provider access. HHS was expected to act upon recommendations from the Institute of Medicine by announcing benefit scopes by May of 2012. Instead, HHS has given states the "flexibility" to adopt their own coverage benchmarks using existing private and public health plans to set the coverage floors. Provider and disease advocacy thus remains a state issue notwithstanding Congressional efforts to standardize coverage nationally.