The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, it represents the most significant government expansion and regulatory overhaul of the country’s healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
The ACA aims to increase the quality, affordability, and rate of health insurance coverage for Americans, and reduce the costs of health care for individuals and the government. It provides a number of mechanisms—including mandates, subsidies, and insurance exchanges—to increase coverage and affordability. The law also requires insurance companies to cover all applicants within new minimum standards and offer the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex. Additional reforms aim to reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes by shifting the system towards quality over quantity through increased competition, regulations, and incentives to streamline the delivery of health care. The Congressional Budget Office projected that the ACA will lower both future deficits and Medicare spending.
On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most of the ACA in the case National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. However, the Court held that states cannot be forced to participate in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion under penalty of losing their current Medicaid funding.
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