An Affordable Healthcare Act supporter (R) talks with a student (L) about the law on the campus of Santa Monica City College in Santa Monica, California, October 10, 2013.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

‘Obamacare’ offers Americans more for less

By any objective measure, those who continue to insist the Affordable Care Act isn’t working arguably deserve to be laughed at. In fact, “Obamacare” is succeeding in ways that should surprise even its most optimistic proponents.
Suzy Khimm reported yesterday, for example, that growth in health care spending was just 3.6% last year – the “the lowest yearly increase since 1960” – according to a new study from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The new data show that health care spending has grown slowly since the financial crisis, remaining between 3.6% and 4.1% for the last five years.
The spending slowdown has helped allay fears that runaway health care costs will overwhelm ordinary households and government entitlement programs. “It’s a continuation of the very good news” that health care costs are slowing, said Loren Adler, research director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
In fairness, it’s worth noting that a variety of factors likely contributed to the improved numbers, including sluggish economic growth.
But over the last half-century, we’ve seen other periods of sluggish growth, which didn’t stop health care costs from increasing a lot faster than they are now – which suggests the ACA has made an important impact.
Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the New York Times the new report is “another piece of evidence that our efforts to reform the health care delivery system are working.”
What’s more, all of this is the exact opposite of what Republicans and other conservative ACA critics predicted would happen once Obamacare took root. The right insisted that the reform law would make health care spending vastly worse – which means we now have yet another example of Republican health-care predictions getting reality exactly backwards.
But even putting politics aside, the latest trends are plainly encouraging to anyone who wants to see the American system improve. Sarah Kliff had a good piece on this yesterday:
Health care spending has, for decades, followed a consistent pattern. America pays more and more for health care – and gets less and less….While we were covering less people, we kept spending more on health care…. That’s been the typical story of American health care: a lousy deal where we get less and spend more.
But there’s a growing body of evidence that this trend is changing; that we’re starting to get a shockingly better deal in a way that has giant consequences for how America spends money.
If Republicans – in Congress or on the Supreme Court – destroy the law, they’ll be tearing down a system that’s working.