Risk & Compliance

Square-Off: Should the Affordable Care Act Be Repealed?

Four experts weigh in as the fate of the health-care reform law hangs in the balance.
David McCannDecember 14, 2016

One way or the other, opinions on the merits of the Affordable Care Act run deep. But whatever your position is, if you think the question of whether the law should be preserved or cast aside is a matter of black and white, consider this:

Obamacare and magnifying glass

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In a survey of 446 U.S. employers, published earlier this year by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 61% of respondents said the ACA has had a negative effect on their business. However, asked whether they favored a repeal of the law, only 35% of the employers said yes, while 44% were opposed to a repeal.

What’s up with that gap?

The easiest explanation may be that a portion of the respondents felt it would be too much bother to again adjust their benefits plans and policies to whatever would replace the ACA. But if that’s the case, the “negative effect” of the law must not have been all that profound.

Other possible explanations, or partial ones, abound. Did some corporate officials have an expansive-enough worldview that they thought the ACA was a plus for society at large, despite their perception of its negative influence on company performance?

Did any of them think cherry-picking a few beloved ACA provisions to keep and dumping the rest of the law was tantamount to “revising” it, rather than “repealing” it?

Were some survey participants showing their political persuasion by not being able to bring themselves to side with Donald Trump on his stated intention to get rid of the ACA? Or were respondents simply confused, for some reason, by the wording of the questions or the answer options they were given?

Pinpointing the reasons for the survey results in question, however, is surely less complicated than assessing the true impact of the law on companies and society. Many experts on public policy, health care, and law have studied the issue at length, only to arrive at markedly divergent conclusions.

Here we’ve assembled four such experts to give their take on whether the ACA should be repealed. We hope they will provide you with some food for thought in 2017, as a Republican-controlled government’s presumed effort to undo much or all of the law unfolds.

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