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Obama publishes article on Affordable Care Act in JAMA

by Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Reporter | July 18, 2016
Business Affairs Population Health
President Barack Obama can add another entry to his resume – author of a scholarly paper in a scientific journal.

The president, with the byline of Barack Obama, J.D., created a stir when the paper, “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps,” appeared in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. A first for a sitting president, the article examines his signature Affordable Care Act and offers proposals for more improvements to U.S. health care.

Chief among his proposals was that a government-run insurance plan, also known as a public option, should be made available in parts of the country were competition by health insurers is limited, according to Bloomberg. Obama also notes that subsidies to reduce insurance premiums should be higher and action needs to be taken to reduce prescription drug costs, according to an abstract of the JAMA article.

Obama championed the positives that he said have come out of the ACA – about 20 million Americans now have coverage and average growth in spending per person under the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled has gone down since the law was enacted in 2010, according to the Bloomberg report.

But the president wrote, “Too many Americans still strain to pay for their physician visits and prescriptions, cover their deductibles, or pay their monthly insurance bills; struggle to navigate a complex, sometimes bewildering system; and remain uninsured. More work to reform the health care system is necessary.”

Alluding to politics that has often stifled action on Capitol Hill, the president nonetheless tried to be optimistic, writing, “Although partisanship and special interest opposition remain, experience with the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that positive change is achievable on some of the nation’s most complex challenges.”

The article, which includes 68 citations and endnotes, was not formally peer-reviewed and was published by JAMA as a “special communication”.

Kristie Canegallo, a deputy White House chief of staff, told Bloomberg the article was inspired by a review of the ACA implementation the president ordered last year. She said the idea was to “point future policy makers in the right direction” on health care issues.

JAMA also included four editorials along with the president’s article. One was written by Peter Orszag, the first director of the Office and Management and Budget in the Obama administration. He wrote, “Fundamentally, the ACA is working.”

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