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Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue

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  • Lessons from Other Countries with National Healthcare

    Clip: Columnists Megan McArdle, Jonathan Chait, and doctors Douglas Kamerow and Scott Gottlieb debate the merits of universal health care and whether a similar system could or should be implemented in the United States.

  • Can Obamacare Avoid Financial Failure

    Clip: Dr. Douglas Kamerow and columnist Megan McArdle discuss whether Obamacare is financially sustainable if it depends on transferring money from younger payers to older users.

Debate Details

With the disastrous launch of the website, critics of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” were given more fuel for the fire. Is this political hot potato's inevitability once again at stake? And is the medical community really on board with the law, or resisting (rewriting?) it from the sidelines?

The Debaters

For the motion

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Practicing Physician & Former Deputy Commissioner, FDA

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., is a practicing physician and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. From 2005 to 2007, he served as the FDA... Read More

Megan McArdle

Writer & Columnist, Bloomberg View

Megan McArdle is a Washington, D.C.-based blogger and journalist who writes about economics, business, and public policy. Currently a columnist for... Read More

Against the motion

Jonathan Chait

Political Commentator & Columnist, New York Magazine

Jonathan Chait is a daily columnist at New York magazine, where he contributes lead pieces of political commentary to, along with short... Read More

Dr. Douglas Kamerow

Family Physician & Former Assistant Surgeon General

Doug Kamerow, M.D., is a family doctor and specialist in preventive medicine; a chief scientist in health services and policy research at RTI International... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • With the loss of public trust and the weakening of the Democratic Party, Obamacare cannot survive its escalating political crisis, which will likely break down the law piece-by-piece through delays and legislative cuts.
  • With the botched launch of, its main consumer interface, Obamacare lost many of the customers its success depends upon: the young and healthy needed to balance the costs of the old and sick.
  • Due to the absence of major insurers in the majority of exchanges, the marketplace is failing and will only worsen in 2015.
  • As written, the Affordable Care Act has inhibited competition, disincentivizing the full participation of insurance companies with its severe restrictions on what kind of plans can be offered. Despite promises to increase and improve health coverage, Obamacare has severely limited provider access and jeopardized the quality of medical care through its "narrow networks," a challenge which will repel patients, doctors, hospitals, and insurers alike.
  • Though the website is largely fixed on the consumer side, massive problems are still unresolved—mainly, the lack of any technical infrastructure to provide insurers with the consumer information required to launch plans and provide coverage.
Against The Motion
  • While the launch of was an unmitigated disaster, the bulk of Obamacare's rollout over the past three and a half years has been largely successful, from the coverage of people with pre-existing conditions to evidence-based preventive services.
  • Obamacare has had better-than-expected results on many fronts, decreasing costs through pay-for-quality reforms, rapidly lowering medical inflation, and sparking a new tide of innovation.
  • The alarmist anecdotes of rising medical costs and lowered provider access under Obamacare do not indicate its failure; while unfortunate, these issues are few and insignificant compared to the increased coverage that Obamacare will provide to previously uninsured Americans. Millions of Americans will have signed up in the exchanges by the time the open enrollment period ends, with even more following for 2015.
  • Major medical organizations, as well as many in the health-care industry, believe that increased participation is far more likely than a death spiral. From its doomsday scenarios to its constant rhetorical attacks, the Republican Party has waged a relentless war on Obamacare in hopes that constructing a narrative of its failure will induce its failure. Their attempt at sabotage is a political fantasy—the democrats will remain united behind it.
  • The successes of certain states' exchanges (such as Kentucky), as well as health care reform in Massachusetts, signify Obamacare's workability on the federal level. As with any large and complex enterprise, it will continue to face hurdles, but these do not signify its failure.


  • Live Audience
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  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Signed into law March 23
March 1, 2016

The law has two parts: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. Visit the links on this page to read both.

Will Health Care Reform Work Out? An Interview

Andy Miller interviews Jonathan Gruber
December 18, 2013

In some sense, the key date when we’ll know something is in May, when the insurers release their next year’s rates.

Obama Repeals Obamacare

Wall Street Journal
December 20, 2013

Under pressure from Senate Democrats, the President partly suspends the individual mandate.

FORAGAINSTWhat Is Obamacare?Tech
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