Policy & Law

The Supreme Court Decision on the Health Reform Law (has not yet been issued)

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I am drowning in a deluge of blog posts, op-ed pieces, newspaper articles and more about the health reform decision that the Supremes have not yet announced.

I am drowning in a deluge of blog posts, op-ed pieces, newspaper articles and more about the health reform decision that the Supremes have not yet announced. (And yes, I admit I was following the liveblogging from the Court Monday morning just in case, y’know, something happened.) In my unscientific survey sample, most pundits seem to be saying that the decision will be a big anticlimax — not to worry: real change is happening in the private sector no matter what; whether or not there’s an individual mandate won’t really affect the market for health insurance; health insurance carriers are going to keep many of the law’s provisions in place even if it is overturned, etc., etc. Those who aren’t saying it’s no big deal are issuing advice that earns the Captain Obvious Award — e.g., premium levels will likely go up if the individual mandate is struck down, but everything else remains untouched.

How often do we see so many pieces written about something that hasn’t happened yet, most of which insist that when it happens it won’t really matter? It all seems to be symptomatic of a group psychopathology more than anything else. My concern is that, no matter the outcome, we are likely to see more coverage of the law, the decision, the implications, the legislative and administrative wrangling to follow — with partisan shouting added to the mix — until well after the inauguration early next year, and possibly until the date that the mandate is now supposed to take effect, January 1, 2014.

What we really need, instead, are a clear understanding of the decision and its ramifications, and a roadmap to planning for life after the decision, to be used by insurers, employers, state Medicaid programs and — oh, yes — citizens. I’ll reserve my comments until after the decision is released.


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About author
DAVID HARLOW is Principal of The Harlow Group LLC, a health care law and consulting firm based in the Hub of the Universe, Boston, MA. His thirty years’ experience in the public and private sectors affords him a unique perspective on legal, policy and business issues facing the health care community. David is adept at assisting clients in developing new paradigms for their business organizations, relationships and processes so as to maximize the realization of organizational goals in a highly regulated environment, in realms ranging from health data privacy and security to digital health strategy to physician-hospital relationships to the avoidance of fraud and abuse. He's been called "an expert on HIPAA and other health-related law issues [who] knows more than virtually anyone on those topics.” (Forbes.com.) His award-winning blog, HealthBlawg, is highly regarded in both the legal and health policy blogging worlds. David is a charter member of the external Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network and has served as the Public Policy Chair of the Society for Participatory Medicine, on the Health Law Section Council of the Massachusetts Bar Association and on the Advisory Board of FierceHealthIT. He speaks regularly before health care and legal industry groups on business, policy and legal matters. You should follow him on Twitter.
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