The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. And it will stay that way for a long time. The new health reform law will evolve, but it won't be repealed. President Barack Obama would veto any outright appeal, which means a two-thirds vote in both Chambers would be required to overcome that veto. There's no mathematical possibility, outside of a Karl Rove's hallucination, in which that two-thirds threshold comes close to being met any time soon.

So the law is here to stay. However, that doesn't mean the law won't be changed. Legislation is like a blueprint, in this case defining the outline of health care reform. But it is the regulators, judges, businesses and civilians interpreting, implementing and simply trying to figure out how things are supposed to work that make the law real. That process has only just begun. For example, one of the few elements of the law that takes effect in 2010 concerns the tax credits available to some small businesses to offset the cost of health insurance premiums they provide their workers. The IRS has begun providing guidelines on how this tax credit will work.

Another example: The Department of Health and Human Services has clarified an ambiguity in the law as to whether carriers must accept children for coverage regardless of any preexisting conditions. HHS has decided children under 19 years of age are eligible for guarantee issue and carriers have agreed to go along with this interpretation.

There are a lot of guidelines, clarifications and new regulations still to come. But here's the good news: like those mentioned above, they will be coming well in advance of the effective date of the health care reform package's various provisions.


All of this means now is not the time to panic. Instead, now is the time to take stock of your business practices and determine which ones foster readiness - and which don't. Now is the time to ignore the blathering of so-called news organizations that are more interested in whipping up partisan passion than informing the public (yes, I'm looking at you Fox and MSNBC). Instead, plug into the vast support network out there, starting with your insurance professionals who are ready, willing and able to help you understand not just the letter of the new health care reform law, but how it is being brought to life.


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