The Affordable Care Act: Young People and Immigrants

Heather Howard, a lecturer in public affairs at Princeton University, discusses where the Affordable Care Act stands now and explains how it could better serve young people and undocumented immigrants.

10/22/16 #632






"Welcome to New Jersey Capitol Report. I'm Steve Adubato. And I'm Rafael Pi Roman. Has the affordable care act, otherwise known as Obamacare been the success its supporters hoped it would be or has it failed as its opponents predicted? Joining us now to help answer that question is former New Jersey Health Commissioner and current Lecturer in Public Affairs at Princeton University, Heather Howard. Heather, welcome back to the show. Good to have you. Thanks for having me. Now Heather, you actually also go around the country helping states implement the affordable care act, correct? That's right. Okay, but objectively speaking, that aside, I want to ask you the first question that I proposed in the introduction. Has it been a success, or has it been, if not a failure, a disappointment? It's definitely working when you look at the numbers, more that 20 million people now have health insurance who didn't before the ACA. So that's an incredible gain. In New Jersey, that's about 750,000 people so think about how that transforms the lives of those people. To have the financial security and the health security of having health insurance. Now that said, it's the largest social program since the great society programs of the sixties, so we have to admit that it's had some bumps. Yeah. And it's going to need to be tweaked going forward, but that's the way all social programs work. You enact programs and over time, you tweak them. I think part of the problem with the ACA is that the climate is so polarized we haven't been able to do that. What does that mean? Well, people haven't been able to come together and fix things. You may recall when medicare part D was enacted, the prescription drug benefit, its rollout was also a disaster. But I was then working for Governor Corzine. George Bush was president. We worked together to make it work and to fix it. You mean the federal government together with the states. That's right, and that's just not happening now. And you're saying that because the republicans are so against it, they don't want to tweak it. They want to kill it. I think that's right. It's so signal and so important to President Obama's legacy that people don't want it to succeed. There are 19 states that have not expanded Medicade and we call them the "refusenick states". They've said "we won't do it" even though it's probably good for the state economically, we've seen... But in New Jersey, Governor Christie has done that. Governor Christie deserves a lot of credit for being one of the first republican governors to expand Medicade. And just last week he held a press conference to tout the success of the program..."