What does the question of "severability" mean
for providers of health care (hospitals, health systems,
physicians, nurses, and other allied health care
Today, the first argument before the Supreme Court was the
question of what happens if parts of the Affordable Care Act are
ruled unconstitutional. Opponents contend that if the Court
determines the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, then the
entire law should be struck down. The federal government contends
the individual mandate is constitutional, but that if the Courts
determines all other parts of the ACA should be allowed to stand.
with the exception of certain insurance market reforms. In legal
terminology, the lawyers and court refer to the question of whether
or not parts of the law can stand while others are struck down as
"severability" – can parts of the law be
severed, or separated, from others. (For additional background on
the issue click
If the Court were to strike down the individual mandate and keep
other provisions in place, it could have an adverse impact on many
providers. In general, health care providers accepted the
individual mandate requirement, the insurance-market reforms, and
Medicare cuts, and other revenue-raising provisions as a package
deal. Eliminating the requirement that all individuals have health
insurance coverage (thereby spreading the risk), would essentially
mean that some providers would see their reimbursement cut, and
would receive a double whammy of getting little relief from the
amount of uncompensated care they provide because the promise of
more patients having insurance would not come to fruition.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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