Troyen Brennan and Thomas Lee
First posted 8/24/11 on the Health Affairs Blog
Copyright ©2011 Health Affairs by Project HOPE – The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”
– Bill Gates
The legislative phase of health care reform closed with President Obama’s signature on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on March 23, 2010. We are now over one year into the regulation and adjudication phase, which will shape the impact of the imposing 1600 page law. This phase will last for years as government regulators interpret — and courts re-interpret — the legislative language, and develop action from its broad outlines.
During this phase, it will be tempting for everyone in health care to believe that little is happening –- at least at first. Skepticism that change is really going to occur has been intensified by the negative reactions to the initial version of proposed regulations for Accountable Care Organizations. Indeed, the message that “change will be optional” was essential to create consensus sufficient to pass the PPACA. Patients were assured that if they liked their current insurance plan, they would not have to change it. Employers were assured that they would continue to have broad discretion over the benefits that they offered employees.