As predicted, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) delivered its opinion on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the last day of its current session, Thursday, June 28, 2012.
In its decision, SCOTUS upheld the ACA in its entirety, including what had been one of the most contentious portions of the ACA: the so-called “individual mandate” that requires everyone to purchase some form of health insurance. Read the full text of the Court’s opinion, all 193 pages, here.
What does this mean going forward? The Court’s decision supports continued patient-centered comparative effectiveness research (CER) through PCORI, the federally funded Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute [http://www.pcori.org/]. In addition, payment reforms that value patient-centered outcomes initiated in the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (the CMS Innovation Center) will continue. From our perspective, that’s a good thing. Both of these programs promote evidence-based CER as a basis for improving health outcomes and patient-centered shared decision making.
Even with the Court’s decision, debate about healthcare reform will continue, and it’s likely that opponents of the ACA will attempt to repeal parts or all of the legislation. Nevertheless, in our opinion, determining the clinical value of the tools, tests, procedures, and interventions that we use to deliver healthcare through the use of outcomes-based research—as established in the ACA—is a necessary step toward reining in out-of-control healthcare costs.