Reflect back to March 23, 2010 when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law by President Barak Obama. Proponents applauded the most massive overhaul of the U.S. healthcare delivery system since the passage of Medicare in 1965. Critics warned of the dire consequences of a “federal government takeover” of the U.S. healthcare delivery system. At the time, the projections of the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were predictions, declarations, and aspirations related to the future of Obamacare.
The political and ideological war to implement the ACA or to obliterate the ACA was waged in the U.S. Supreme Court and in the Presidential election of 2012. Battles continue today in the U.S. Supreme Court-King v. Burwell. Furthermore, political parties and their key stakeholders are making plans to march forward with the ACA implementation or to reverse course and retreat. To date, the U.S. Congress has attempted to repeal Obamacare more than 50 times.
Fast forward to March 23, 2010 and the evidence is available to partially answer the question-Has the ACA been successful to date? Assuming that the legislative intent is the measure of success which was to increase the number of U.S. citizens who have health insurance coverage. The answer to the question is an unequivocal yes. Specifically, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a total of 16.4 million non-elderly adult Americans are now covered due directly to the ACA.
Critics will ask the question-What was the cost to society for implementing Obamacare? Dating back to even before the passage of the PPACA on March 23, 2010, the critics argued that the ACA is a “job killer”, that the ACA will cause the stock markets to tumble and that health-related companies would be destroyed financially. Let’s examine each one of these assertions. First, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate is now 5.5 percent which is lower than when the ACA was signed into law five years ago. Furthermore, there has not been an increase in part-time employment as predicted by the critics. Second, as recently as Wednesday, March 18, 2015, the stock market has reached record highs and the managed care sector is hot. Third, the healthcare industry is undergoing a lot of change but job growth has not stalled yet the type of jobs and place of jobs is changing such as an increase in outpatient positions.
Looking ahead toward the continuing implementation of the ACA over the next couple of years, it is predictable that political parties, politicians, and pundits will make forecasts, rally troops to their ideological side, and make sweeping generalizations based upon feelings and not data.