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A Case To Watch

In late March the US SupremeCourt will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obama Care.

The stakes couldn’t be bigger.  Recognizing the significance of this case, the Supreme Court has allocated 5½ hours for oral arguments over 3 days, the most time allocated to a Supreme Court case in nearly 50 years.

One question to be decided by the Supreme Court is that portion of the new law that mandates individuals purchase health insurance or face a penalty.  The Court will also question the enormous expansion of Medicaid and its impact upon states. It is this expansion of Medicaid that may present the most difficult questions for the Supreme Court.

Medicaid is a federal-state program enacted in 1965 as a health care provider for the poor.  Obama Care will add more than 30 million uninsured Americans to the Medicaid program.  Medicaid budgets have exploded with a projected rise in cost of 7.9% just this year and an expected budget cost of $434 billion by the end of the decade.

The expansion of Medicaid has caused concern in state legislatures and budget offices throughout the nation.  Nevada, and many other states with significant indigent health care costs, now expends nearly as much on Medicaid as on education, and under Obama Care this amount could grow to almost 60% of Nevada’s total budget.

In our practice we are increasingly asked to assist families plan for the costs of uninsured  care.  These costs can arise from loss of job benefits, exhausting insurance coverage, or the need for long-term nursing home care.  Significantly, we are seeing more families with special needs children when their child’s medical coverage ends as their child reaches adulthood. 

While the stakes are high, especially in an election year, the fact remains that our health care system must change if it is to remain solvent.  Medicaid is nearly broke, Medicare will be broke by 2017, and the wave of Baby Boomers is poised to become large consumers of health care. 

At Jeffrey Burr we are paying close attention to our national debate on the future of health care. Please contact us if you or a family member has questions; we are here to help.