Graduate student at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is an entity created in order to tackle healthcare quality and rising costs issues. The main purpose of their creation is to simultaneously address payment methods and delivery reform. ACOs are generally a local entity comprised of at least physicians (primary and specialists) and hospitals that are responsible for the full spectrum of care for specific beneficiaries. ACOs provide financial incentives such as shared savings and bonuses for meeting certain predetermined quality measurements.
The current lawsuits brought against the health reform law are attacking the constitutionality of one of its provisions-the individual mandate. The mandate states that by in 2014, every individual will have to purchase health insurance or be subjected to a monetary penalty. The law also lacks a severability clause; if one part of the bill gets struck down as unconstitutional then the entire bill cannot stand. Congress argued that it had the power to impose the mandate due to the commerce clause which allows it to regulate commerce between states. Under this clause, Congress expressed that it had the power to impose a penalty on uninsured individuals because their inactivity was jeopardizing the health insurance industry. Advocates of the unconstitutionality of the mandate argue that Congress cannot impose penalties on inactivity. While some argue that a penalty is just a another form of taxation-which Congress has the authority to levy-others believe that taxes and penalties are very different. While this seems to be boiling down to semantics, it will be eventually resolved in the Supreme Court.