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CEOs: Now It's Time to Address Affordability

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, June 29, 2012

Unless you've been watching Euro soccer nonstop, you know that the Supreme Court upheld the key parts of the Affordable Care Act with its historic decision last Thursday. Most people thought what came to pass would have been the least likely outcome given the tone of the arguments before the court back in March.

The ruling seemed to hinge, as many expected, over whether the mandate was a tax or not. That put the administration and its lawyers in a tough bind. Only Chief Justice John Roberts could bail them out of failure. Somewhat surprisingly, he did.

Of course, the administration and congressional supporters of the law had been careful to avoid calling the penalty for not carrying insurance a tax in crafting the legislation (because it wouldn't have passed) and even in their arguments before the court itself. Chief Justice John Roberts bailed them out by calling something that walks like a tax and sounds like a tax, a tax, and therefore Congress has the power to implement it.

Leading up to the decision and immediately after, I had never seen such a rush to give an opinion among healthcare stakeholders in years, if ever. Even the original passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 seems to wither in comparison to the hundreds of emails (exclamation point!) and requests to speak with a reporter from vendors, associations, individual hospitals, physician organizations and even non-healthcare related entities.

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