July 3, 2013
Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is in full swing, and the need for more attorney involvement is growing daily. Even the media are picking up on the growing need for legal assistance in health care, as noted in a recent article (Jennifer Smith, “Want a Law Job? Learn the Health-Care Act”).
Implementation problems are surfacing on a variety of fronts. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is gearing up for a new (and very tardy) education-and- outreach “navigator” effort to help individuals sign up through the new Health Exchanges starting October 1, 2013. This effort is being supported by a nonprofit group Enroll America (at www.enrollamerica.org). Local community organizations are being recruited to help people deal with the new procedures.
Several things are clear at this point: (1) most people do not understand Obamacare; (2) the last-minute navigators have their work cut out for them; (3) individuals will start to get anxious about the situation in the near future; (4) applying through the new Exchanges is going to be complicated; and (5) many individuals and health care organizations will need attorney help to deal with problems.
Attorneys may approach this situation in several ways. They may add new services to an established practice, for existing and new clients. They may provide educational programs for a wide range of community organizations, at a time when the recognition of need is growing, and perhaps offer group workshops, They may also assist health care organizations in getting ready for the ACA through consulting services for planning, and problem-solving services as issues arise. Because of the wide range of new demands that are building at present, attorneys may often have to select their primary areas of interest for participation in ACA-related activities.
This is #1 in a series of weekly Obamacare Reports. More on these topics may be found in a recent book by the authors.