Affordable Care Act Denialism Strikes Again

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 19 2012 9:23 PM

Affordable Care Act Denialism Strikes Again

Another quick point on the Niall Ferguson article I mentioned below is that it's a prime example of a syndrome I like to call Affordable Care Act Denialism where people criticize the recent health reform law for not doing things that it absolutely does do:

And then there was health care. No one seriously doubts that the U.S. system needed to be reformed. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire, the “fee for service” model that drives health-care inflation, the link from employment to insurance that explains why so many Americans lack coverage, and the excessive costs of the liability insurance that our doctors need to protect them from our lawyers.

With the exception of medical malpractce issues this is completely false. The law attempts to address the long-run explosion of Medicare cost with comparative effective research and payment reforms, among other things. The law takes a number of steps to try to shift the American model away from fee-for-service and toward what it calls Accountable Care Organizations. And easing the link between employment and insurance is at the core of the law, whose most-discussed elements are new regulations on insurance companies designed to eliminate the adverse selection issues that currently hobble the market for individual health insurance plans.

A person is under no obligation to love the ACA. In particular if you believe—as most conservatives do—that high taxes are very economically harmful, there's simply no getting around the fact that the ACA raises taxes substantially. But much too much of the commentary on the law (and not just in the fever swamps of Fox News) reflects almost no engagement with its actual content.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


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