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Brookings Now

What Brookings Scholars Are Saying Now about Affordable Care Act Implementation

Fred Dews

As President Obama announces a “fix” to certain health coverage plans, and as healthcare.gov problems continue, Brookings scholars are offering their views of the issue.

Larry Kocot, a visiting fellow with the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform, told Fox Business News that he is “both discouraged and disappointed by the events of this week. I am still hopeful they can pull this off, but their job is much more difficult after this week.” He continued with notes of caution:

This is not anywhere near what the administration needs to be successful in the long run. They have to demonstrate confidence and show they are in charge of the system for people to flock to the exchanges. And there is a lot of work involved for that to happen. …

There is now a strong possibility that the greatest domestic success of the first Obama Administration could become the greatest failure of the second Obama Administration. When a president has to apologize multiple times for the issues related to the rollout … a sorry administration will not sell this program.

Kavita Patel, a physician and fellow with the Engelberg Center, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that she believes it will work:

I honestly believe this, as both a physician and a policy person, I really do believe that the insurance reforms that were passed in the Affordable Care Act are going to work. We’ve seen them start to work. And I do believe that as we get through glitches, all the way to what happened today, we are going to be able to fast forward.

She added that she is nervous about “how long it’s going to take for us to sit and say, you know what, looking back on that, we’re really comfortable it worked. Remember, with Part D and Medicare, it took us a little while to say that.”

Henry Aaron, a senior fellow in Economic Studies, calls President Obama’s announcement that insurers could continue to offer their substandard, non-ACA compliant plans for another year “political jiu jitsu.” He writes:

With this step, the president shifts responsibility for cancellation from his health reform law to the now entirely discretionary actions of insurance companies. Moreover, he has given insurers a nasty choice. They can, if they wish, refuse to rescind their cancellations. In that event, they become the villains forcing customers to discontinue their current coverage. Or they can gain their customers’ goodwill by grandfathering current plans. But to enjoy this aura, they must inform their customers at their own expense of the virtues of Obamacare.

Governance Studies Senior Fellow William Galston looks at President Obama’s recent polling numbers and says that “the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act has frayed the bonds of trust he has enjoyed with the American people.” With Korin Davis, Galston also has looked at public opinion surveys specifically about government-guaranteed health insurance in the context of the bumpy Obamacare rollout.

See this earlier post about what Brookings experts were saying about ACA implementation earlier in November.

And see also:


Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform



FixGov Blog



Affordable Care Act research topic page

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