The Past and the Future

Yesterday was a historic day as the major coverage expansions and consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act went into full effect. On our Twitter account @HealthAccess, we did an hourly countdown that cited all the big changes that came with the new year: an end to pre-existing condition denials; the start of coverage for hundreds of thousands who signed up through Covered California or Low-Income Health Programs.

It is hard to overstate how big the transformation has been. In health care, the next biggest change was with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid over 45 years ago. Our board member Dorothy Rice, 91, who served as the head of health policy research for the Social Security Administration during the Johnson Administration, recalled that history in a recent interview with Capitol Public Radio’s Pauline Bartolone. Dorothy Rice is typically wonderful, and we highly recommend listening to it:

While we recalls the past, we also look to the future. We were invited by The New Republic to participate with other health care experts to predict what the Affordable Care Act would look like in a year. Here’s our take, and others:

“Washington-based media will continue to hyperventilate about Obamacare, mistakenly using every website glitch or early enrollment figure as a binary barometer of the law’s success or failure. But even in a state like California—where the website (mostly) works, premiums came in below expectations, and enrollments are on target—officials aren’t putting up a “Mission Accomplished” banner yet. Just as rollout problems were never indications of the ACA’s demise, progress to date is not proof the job is finished.”

We also suggest some of the health policy debates we’ll see in 2014…

Happy reading, and happy new year!