The U.S. healthcare system underwent its most significant overhaul in 45 years when President Obama signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010. The law aimed to increase Americans’ access to affordable, quality health insurance, but a firestorm of criticism quickly zeroed in on one aspect of the act in particular: the individual coverage mandate. Forcing an American to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a penalty is unconstitutional, opponents argued, and they took their argument all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The justices disagreed, however, ruling 5-4 in June 2012 that the government’s authority to do exactly that existed within Congress’ power to levy taxes.
“Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives are more secure because of this law,” President Obama said in response to the ruling.
But how? Consider this: Beyond the individual mandate, the Affordable Care Act put in place a bevy of reforms aimed at bettering the healthcare experience of Americans as a whole. Most of the major provisions were phased in by January of this year, yet they still remain shadowed by opponents’ ongoing threats to repeal what many consider a controversial law because of the individual coverage mandate.
Here’s a look at what the Affordable Care Act prohibits, protects and creates.
How has the Affordable Care Act most affected your patients and nursing practice?