Prom­i­nent ACA ex­perts to de­bate re­form law’s suc­cess

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Lisa Schencker

Two prom­i­nent voices in the de­bate over the le­gal­ity of pre­mium sub­si­dies will go head to head Wed­nes­day on the ques­tion of whether health­care re­form is suc­ceed­ing, five years af­ter the Af­ford­able Care Act was signed into law.

Jonathan Gru­ber, a Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy health econ­o­mist, and Michael Can­non, direc­tor of health pol­icy stud­ies at the lib­er­tar­ian Cato In­sti­tute, will duke it out in a de­bate hosted by Sun Life Fi­nan­cial, which will be streamed live.

Can­non, a peri­patetic critic of the law, was a key in­flu­ence be­hind the King v. Bur­well chal­lenge to the pre­mium tax cred­its, which the U.S. Supreme Court is ex­pected to de­cide in June. Gru­ber, who con­sulted in the draft­ing of the ACA, gained in­famy in re­cent months af­ter videos sur­faced of him say­ing Democrats ex­ploited the “stu­pid­ity of the Amer­i­can voter” to gain sup­port for the law. He has since apol­o­gized.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and oth­ers say it’s be­yond ques­tion that the law has suc­ceeded, cit­ing the more than 16 mil­lion pre­vi­ously unin­sured Amer­i­cans who have gained health cov­er­age, the end to cov­er­age de­nials for peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and slower health­care spend­ing growth. But crit­ics say the ACA has driven up pre­mium costs, forced many peo­ple to find new health plans and prompted em­ploy­ers to cut em­ployee work hours to avoid the re­quire­ment to of­fer cov­er­age to full-timers.

It’s likely that Gru­ber and Can­non also will joust over the mean­ing of the six words that hold the key to Oba­macare’s fate in the Supreme Court case—“an Ex­change es­tab­lished by the State.”

Can­non

Gru­ber

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