Current, former health officials making case that Obamacare is working

By Bernie Monegain
11:17 AM
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Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews used a speech at the Brookings Institution to lay down evidence that the Affordable Care Act is indeed working. And former national coordinator Farzad Mostashari, MD, took to the op-ed pages of Wednesday's New York Times with a similar message.

“In the 40 years since [President Nixon’s] address to Congress, our country paid a hefty price for inaction on healthcare — even as Presidents Ford, Carter, Bush, and Clinton made this a priority," Burwell explained. "Costs spiraled out of control, and healthcare became unaffordable for millions of families and businesses alike.”

Today, More than 7.3 million people have enrolled in insurance plans via Healthcare.gov, even more through state health insurance exchanges, and 8 million opted into Medicaid or CHIP since the 2013, when the enrollment opened.

“In just one year, we’ve reduced the number of uninsured adults by 26 percent. Said another way, 10.3 million fewer adults are uninsured today than in 2013,” Burwell noted. 

Mostashari, meanwhile, shined a light on McAllen, Texas, the subject of Atul Gawande's landmark 2009 New Yorker article "The Cost Conundrum." Gawande, a surgeon and writer, examined and detailed why healthcare in McAllen was so costly while its citizens suffered from poor health.

Mostashari, writing along with Bob Kocher, MD, former special assistant to President Obama on healthcare and economic policy, that the McAllen community, one of the most at-risk populations in the country, has lower healthcare costs and better health.

"Five years later, the situation has changed," Mostashari and Kocher wrote. "Where McAllen once illustrated the problem of American health care, the city is now showing us how the problem can be solved, largely because of the Affordable Care Act that Mr. Obama signed into law in 2010."

After leaving the Office of the National Coordinator and the Brookings Institute, Mostashari founded a company called Aledade, dedicated to helping physicians form accountable care organizations. Kocher joined venture capital firm Venrock, which has invested in Aledade.