Paul Howard and Stephen T. Parente
a rch 23, 2010, m a r k ed a wat er shed in American politics. On that day, amid much fanfare and ceremony at the White House, President Obama signed into law the largest expansion of American government in more than four decades. The enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — passed by slim single-party majorities in both houses of Congress, and in the face of intense public opposition — forces us to confront some very basic questions about what we Americans want for our country. Will we continue to increase the size and scope of the entitlement programs that threaten our fiscal future, or will we begin to trim them back for the sake of American prosperity? Can we abide exploding health-care costs, or should we act to contain them before they crush our economy? Is a more socialized health-care system the only way to expand access to doctors, hospitals, and quality medical treatment? Or are there ways to help people who lack health insurance without undermining the coverage and care that other Americans enjoy? Obamacare’s enactment poses rather than answers these questions because the law’s ultimate fate is still uncertain. Its provisions remain deeply unpopular with American voters; most of its purported benefits will not take effect for almost four years; and Republicans around the country have vowed to run on a platform of repealing it — both in this year’s congressional elections, and in 2012.
Pau l Howa r d is director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress and managing editor of Medical Progress Today. S t e p h e n T. Pa r e n t e is director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute and Minnesota Insurance Industry Professor of Health Finance in the finance department of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
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