Oregon Readies Passage of Oregon Health Care Reform

Revisions to Health Care Reform Law: Oregon Readies Passage of Oregon Health Care Reform
By Barran Liebman
Oregon law firm

This year, along with April showers, the beginning of spring has brought some noteworthy developments in the ongoing saga of Health Care Reform.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Challenges to Health Care Reform

The United States Supreme Court announced that it will not “fast track” its review of the constitutional challenges to the legislation popularly known as Health Care Reform–it will only review the lower-court’s decisions after they have been heard and ruled upon in the appellate courts. This means that there will be no Supreme Court resolution of the controversial Health Care Reform legislation until at least the 2011-2012 Court term, and it is likely that the Court’s ruling will not be issued until Summer 2012, ensuring that this issue will remain a hot issue in the upcoming 2012 political election season.

No More Vouchers

As passed, Health Care Reform contained a provision requiring employers to provide vouchers to certain lower-income employees to allow those employees to purchase insurance through an Exchange, in the place of employer-provided coverage. This provision was repealed in recent appropriations legislation. The result is that employers looking to forecast heath care costs in 2014, when the penalty provisions of Health Care Reform begin, must only evaluate whether they will offer qualifying health plan coverage or pay the $2,000/$3,000 per employee penalties.

1099 Legislation Repealed

In companion legislation to the appropriations bill, President Obama signed legislation repealing the 1099 requirement, which would have required companies to report payments of $600 or more to any business in addition to the currently required reporting for payment to an individual. To offset the expected revenue from the expanded 1099 reporting, the legislation increased the amount of repayment required for subsidy-eligible individuals who earn more than expected in the year in which they receive a subsidy to purchase insurance through an Exchange.

Oregon Health Care Reform

The Oregon Legislature’s Senate Committee has approved Senate Bill 99, which is the State of Oregon’s Health Care Reform bill. Senate Bill 99 proposes to create an Exchange as a public corporation with a governing board. The Exchange will be available to individuals and businesses with 50 or less employees in 2014, and in 2016 would be open to all purchasers. It is likely that the Senate and House will pass the Bill, albeit potentially with some revisions. Thus, Oregon health-care customers are likely to be residents of one of the first states to adopt an Exchange, and individuals and small businesses are expected to have the option of participating in the Exchange, over current purchasing systems, like small business consultants, in 2½ years.

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