Mark Lutes, a Member of the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, in the Washington, DC, office, was quoted in an article titled "Should Companies Wait for the Courts to Overturn Health Care Reform?"

Following is an excerpt:

When Congress passed and the President signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in March 2010, lawsuits challenging the law and its specific provisions began almost immediately. Today, some of these lawsuits have been dismissed while others are still working their way through the courts. In addition, most observers expect at least one of these cases to reach the Supreme Court possibly later this year or early 2012.

"There is a very low likelihood that a constitutional challenge to the individual mandate will have widespread impact on the other aspects of PPACA that speak either to access expansion, insurance market reform or Medicare and Medicaid payment innovation/reform," says Mark Lutes.

With so many variables in play with regard to these lawsuits, companies need to focus on what they can control rather than waiting for an uncertain outcome from the courts. Lutes suggests companies keep their attention focused on controlling health care costs through wellness and other initiatives while also improving quality of care through new performance arrangements with health care provider systems.

However, once the health insurance exchanges are up and running in 2014, he does not expect employers to stop offering their employees health benefits and force employees to purchase individual or family coverage offered through an exchange.

In Lutes's view, there are still many questions to be resolved regarding the exchanges that could take some time to address. "There are going to be significant challenges ahead (when it comes to) operationalizing those exchanges and in seeing nationwide offerings appear on such exchanges," he says. "The risk pool for such offerings and the resulting pricing is a work in progress and could differ materially from state to state. Employers will generally want to see how this all shakes out before making material changes in their approach to this area of benefits."

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