Affordable Care Act v. American Health Care Act: Georgetown Experts Provide Perspective

March 22, 2017

Eight Georgetown professors and one from New York University School of Law displayed their expertise in healthcare and tax law at “‘Repeal and Replace’ the Affordable Care Act: Understanding the House GOP Healthcare Reform Bill.” The March 21 event was moderated by Professor Lawrence O. Gostin, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

Gostin noted at the outset that according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, 14 million more people could be uninsured by 2018 and 24 million more could be without health insurance by 2026 under the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA). Professor from Practice Timothy Westmoreland noted under the same estimates that employer-based coverage could decline, costs may go up and fewer employers may take part in exchanges.

While it is not perfect, the existing Affordable Care Act (ACA) “is not in a death spiral,” Westmoreland said as he outlined key elements of the ACA and effects of the proposed AHCA, particularly with respect to Medicaid. Westmoreland, a former director of the Medicaid program, contributed to most of the panels. The ACA, he noted, has succeeded in covering 20 million additional Americans. “It can be made to collapse — leading to the question that’s always asked in every murder mystery, ‘did he fall or was he pushed’ — but so far…it’s not on a path to collapse.”

Georgetown Law Professors Lilian Faulhaber and John R. Brooks, along with NYU Professor Lily Batchelder, examined taxes and transfers under both plans. Professors David Hyman and Brian Galle measured potential impacts of the proposed legislation. Professor M. Gregg Bloche and Georgetown University’s John T. Monahan, meanwhile, focused on the AHCA’s likely impact on health and medical care.

“There’s a big difference between a conversation about health and its determinants versus a conversation about health care,” Bloche said. “It’s probably the case that the biggest long-term impact of the policy changes of the next few years on health will come from the federal budget in its non-health care dimensions as we pursue a reverse ‘Robin Hood’ course in this country[.]”

The event was co-hosted by the O’Neill Institute, Georgetown’s Tax Law Program, and the Office of the Dean.