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At two-year mark, health law’s legacy is confusion

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Two years after congressional Democrats squeezed out enough votes to pass President Obama’s health care overhaul, confusion still reigns among the states, insurers and average Americans struggling to comply with the hundreds of pages in the law.

Some states say they can’t move forward until the government issues more rules to clarify exactly what kinds of services need to be covered, while other states dispute that, saying enough information is available to plow ahead.

Insurance companies are biting their nails over how the requirements will affect their bottom lines.

Business owners say they can’t begin to comply with the law because it is too baffling. “Most of ‘em don’t have a clue what’s fixin’ to happen,” said Grady Payne, owner of a business based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Analysts, however, say many questions have been answered and that businesses should invest the time to find the answers.

Add to that the legal uncertainty. The Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments over the law next week, Republican presidential candidates are vowing to repeal or waive the law, and some policymakers are asking for a pause.

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“I think it would make an awful lot of sense to say, ‘Let’s wait a minute, let’s take a breath,’” said Bill Hazel, the secretary of health and human resources in Virginia. “Let’s get through this Supreme Court decision, let’s get through the elections and then reconsider this.”

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The legislation passed by a 219-212 vote in the House and a 60-39 vote in the Senate, with just a single Republican in favor of it. The bill cleared Congress on March 21, 2010, and Mr. Obama signed it into law two days later in a ceremony at the White House.

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