Robert J. EllerstenTo the Editor of hfm:

The opinion piece in the Eye on Washington section of the May issue of hfm by Gail R. Wilensky, PhD, provided a thorough discussion of the many delays, problems, broken promises, and complications with the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But it overlooked an important point in not mentioning or expressing concern about the critical issue that the ACA seeks to address: the substantial number Americans who lacked health insurance at the start of the roll-out. The generally accepted number is 48 million.

Also there was no mention that the United States stands alone among the developed nations in not having universal health insurance for all of its citizens.

The piece was apparently written before there was clarity about one key issue: the number of Americans who enrolled in the ACA exchanges. The piece stated that, in March, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate was for 6 million enrollees in the exchanges. We now know that in April the actual number turned out to be 33 percent more, for an enrollment of 8 million.

Despite all of the roll-out issues, this enrollment in seven months means that the current level is already about one-third of the way to reaching the CBO estimate of 24 million enrollees in exchanges by 2017.

Critics of the ACA should keep one important point in mind: The most recent Gallup poll indicates the net increase in Americans with health insurance during the ACA roll-out through April has been in excess of 10 million. That is more than 20 percent of the number of 48 million uninsured at the start.

It’s time to set aside partisan objections to the ACA and get behind the legislation’s central purpose by putting the remaining uninsured Americans at the forefront of the discussion in shaping the nation’s future healthcare policy.

Robert J. Ellertsen, FHFMA, is a member of HFMA’s Massachusetts-Rhode Island Chapter.

Publication Date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014