Obama's Analysis Of Obamacare Draws Debate

| by Michael Doherty
Barack Obama speakingBarack Obama speaking

President Barack Obama has published an essay analyzing the Affordable Care Act in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looking at the act's strengths and flaws.

The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare," was passed in 2010, and made major changes to American healthcare. The act prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and offers insurance subsidies to lower-income families, along with a host of other reforms, according to Healthline.

In his analysis, Obama calls the ACA the "most important health care legislation enacted in the United States since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965." He cites 20 million people who have gained insurance through the program, an increase which has brought the percentage of people without insurance in the U.S. to 9.1 percent as of 2015. The uninsured rate has steadily dropped since the ACA's passage in 2010.

The president also claims in his assessment that the ACA has helped keep health care spending under control, an argument that The Washington Post says has been debated. According to the Post, opponents of the law have argued that the slowed increase in health care spending may be due to other factors, such as economic recession.

Dartmouth College economist Jonathan Skinner said that while Obama's point about the ACA increasing the rate of coverage is undeniable, Skinner and his co-author, Harvard University's Amitabh Chandra, took issue with Obama's claim that the ACA contained health care spending in an editorial that accompanied Obama's analysis.

"We don't see evidence that it's doing it," said Skinner, who also pointed out that recent years have seen a decrease in expensive medical procedures such as inpatient back surgery and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

"Cost control is one of those great unanswered questions in health policy. There are many theories about what is going on," said New York Times Reporter Margot Sanger-Katz in a piece about the new essay. Sanger-Katz pointed out that most of the analysis gave Obamacare at least partial credit for the decrease in spending growth.

Obama concluded his essay by saying that the ACA gave him hope "about this country's capacity to make meaningful progress on even the biggest public policy challenges."

Sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post, Healthline / Photo credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr

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