The U.S. Supreme Court today said an anxiously watching public would have to wait until Thursday for its decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
That's left those in health care and in state government on hold on some of the projects that have been in the works in preparation for the law's implementation.
When Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the state's health insurance exchange law in early May, he cited the uncertainty around the Supreme Court's review of the law requiring the exchange. For Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy, a decision in Washington would mean progress in New Jersey.
"I was impressed that the governor's veto message clearly said, if the court upholds this law, we will implement, we will comply with federal law, which I think is the first time he put in writing that we're going to move forward to implement the affordable care act," he said.
Cantor said the institute has several initiatives on hold until a decision comes down, including hiring a coordinator for the recently announced program to nationally establish the care model created by the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
"We're gearing up to hit the ground running — as soon as we know where the ground is," Cantor said.
James Robertson, partner and head of the health care group at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP, said many of his clients, too, are waiting to launch initiatives until the high court's decision.
"This is going to be a big, big summer … no matter which way it goes," Robertson said. "If they uphold it, then there's going to be a lot of activity, and we do expect clients to really launch a bunch of projects we know are in the pipeline right now."
Robertson said the issue most pertinent to his clients is the individual mandate, and whether, if the mandate is struck down, the rest of the provisions will be stricken, as well.
Dr. Robert W. Brenner, chief medical officer of the Summit Medical Group, said no matter how the court rules, health reform will need to move forward — but without the law, it will move much slower, and many providers, payers and consumers will continue "business as usual."
Summit Medical Group is participating in several private insurance companies' pilot programs, like affordable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, outlined in the ACA. Brenner said he "could not imagine" the court would prevent private collaboration between providers, even if gain sharing is disallowed.
The ruling "will not affect our strategy moving forward," Brenner said. "We're involved in value-based contracting, and that's not going to go away."