Yes, the bulk of the healthcare reform law doesn’t kick in until 2014. But there’s still plenty going on with the law this year.
Seven dates you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Jan. 1. This month, groups of healthcare providers officially started to band together to form Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) to treat Medicare participants. They are designed to improve healthcare quality in an attempt to bring down costs. ACOs will accept a flat fee for all care related to a small group of Medicare patients. The idea is
that the more an ACOs quality of care increases, the more its healthcare costs will decrease — and the more money it will make.
- March 26, 27, 28. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to determine a) whether the individual mandate challenges to the law are barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, b) if the mandate is constitutional and c) whether the rest of the law can stand if the individual mandate is deemed unconstitutional.
- Oct. 1. A series of changes to standardize billing will take effect. They will require health plans to adopt and implement rules for the secure, confidential and electronic exchange of health information.
In addition, the law’s Value-Based Purchasing program will take effect. It’ll tie hospitals’ Medicare payments to performance metrics. The higher the quality of care, the higher their payments will be. Hospitals will also get penalized if a patient is readmitted for an illness that could’ve been prevented during a previous stay.
- Nov. 6. The general election this year could lead to sweeping changes in the White House, Congress and the healthcare reform law. If Republicans gain control of the presidency and Congress, it all but guarantees that big parts of the law will be repealed. But if Democrats stay in power, much of the law could be implemented as planned depending on where the Supreme Court lands on the individual mandate issue.
- Dec. 31. By the end of the year states must report on the progress they’ve made in readying their health insurance exchanges for their 2014 launch. If they haven’t made enough progress, the feds may opt to step in.