Harold Pollack and Greg Anrig make the case this week that President Obama brushed past the Affordable Care Act in his State of the Union address, which is a shame because the health-reform law has become a "quiet triumph."
[S]urprising even to many advocates of health care reform, evidence is emerging that the ACA is already improving life for millions of average Americans. It is promoting long-overdue fundamental changes in our dysfunctional medical system. Moreover, because those reforms are starting to directly address heightened economic insecurities of average families -- the personal financial conditions that will largely determine this year's election outcomes -- President Obama would be wise to more forcefully and more specifically explain how his health care bill is already helping millions of vulnerable families and the country as a whole.Sure, financially-pressured families will celebrate the derring-do of Seal Team Six. They should directly appreciate the immediate impact of improved insurance coverage and reduced medical costs.
There's ample evidence to bolster the Pollack/Anrig thesis. Much of the Affordable Care Act won't take effect until 2014 -- assuming it survives until then -- but several provisions that have already been implemented are having a positive impact.
The health care law (1) is combating fraud and abuse, which in turns saves Americans quite a bit of money; (2) has brought coverage to 2.5 million young adults; (3) is delivering major savings to seniors on prescription drugs; (4) is giving a boost to small businesses through ACA tax credits; (5) has slowed the growth of Medicare spending; (6) has provided new treatment options for cancer patients; and (7) has offered new coverage protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
These are tangible, real-world benefits, making a meaningful difference in people's lives. As Pollack and Anrig concluded, "Health reform has already improved the humanity and effectiveness of our health care system. President Obama is entitled, and obliged, to embrace his own signature domestic policy accomplishment."