On March 30, 2010, President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872) into law, supplementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) which was signed a week earlier, and completing passage of an expansive health care reform package (referred to in this summary as the "Act") that has been a priority for his Administration. The core goal of health care reform was to provide health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. The legislation attempts to achieve this goal through a variety of approaches, including tax credits, penalizing employers that don't offer affordable coverage and individuals who fail to obtain coverage, creation of "health insurance exchanges," expansion of Medicare Part D coverage and taxing high cost insurance plans.
The most sweeping changes brought by the Act do not take effect until 2014 and 2018, and existing health plans may be “grandfathered” or exempt from certain key requirements. However, a number of important provisions take effect in 2010 and 2011 for all health plans. Other changes are not specifically directed at employer-provided health plans but will nevertheless impact employers and their employees. This summary focuses on the provisions of the law that will have the most significant impact on employers. These provisions are grouped below in chronological order by the date on which they take effect.
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