The legal battle over health care reform

March 16, 2012

From March 26-28, 2012, the Supreme Court will hear challenges to the constitutionality of the landmark health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read how Harvard School of Public Health researchers have been contributing to the national conversation on improving access to health care and reducing costs.

HSPH Faculty Contribute to Affordable Care Act Brief Generating Supreme Court Buzz
“At the core of the brief is the idea that non-purchase of health care is different than non-purchase of other goods,” said Professor of Health Economics and Policy Meredith B. Rosenthal, one of the 40 experts who contributed to the brief. The brief was organized and drafted by David Cutler, professor in the Harvard Economics Department. Katherine Swartz, professor of health policy and economics at HSPH, and Joseph Newhouse, John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management at HSPH, also contributed. (March 17, 2012)

Inside Health Reform
John McDonough, HSPH professor of the practice of public health, was a senior advisor on the U.S. Senate committee responsible for developing the health care reform plan that President Barack Obama signed into law in March 2010. He is a former Massachusetts state legislator and executive director of the advocacy group Health Care for All. McDonough’s book Inside National Health Reform, released in September 2011, offers an insider’s perspective on the ambitious legislative effort to reform the nation’s health care system.

Costlier Care Doesn’t Mean Better Care
In Texas, medical care is cheaper—and patients fare better—in El Paso than in McAllen. What difference does 800 miles make? In a June 1, 2009, article in The New Yorker that was quickly touted as required reading in the Obama White House, HSPH Prof. Atul Gawande wrote that the primary driver “was, very simply, the across-the-board overuse of medicine.”

HSPH Policy Expert Blogs on Health Care Reform
HSPH’s John McDonough has covered the Affordable Care Act from multiple angles on his Health Stew blog for

Ensuring Universal Health Insurance Coverage is a Moral Issue, Says HSPH’s John McDonough
“I don’t think there is a single person in America who would say for a second that this was the best law that could have been envisioned. But this is closest to the best law that could have gotten through the Congress,” HSPH Prof. John McDonough told the Boston Globe. (November 3, 2011)

Why IS Health Care Reform So Elusive?
HSPH Prof. John McDonough spoke with the Harvard Public Health Review about the Affordable Care Act. (September 20, 2011)

Inside National Health Reform
HSPH Prof. John McDonough speaks his book Inside National Health Reform, an insider’s guide to the effort behind passing the law. (KERA, September 14, 2011)

HSPH Health Policy Expert Impressed with National Health Reform Implementation
The highly contentious and politically polarizing ACA is not good enough, but it was the best health care law achievable in the current environment, said HSPH’s John McDonough (July 12, 2011)

HSPH Prof. Cites 10 Reasons for Optimism about Health Reform Implementation
HSPH Prof. John McDonough calls support from Americans who are already benefiting from the health care reform law, a wave of innovation energizing the United States’ health system, and the improving economy as reasons to be optimistic about the future of health care reform. (April 1, 2011)

President Obama Signals Support for Flexibility for States in Implementing Health Law
President Obama is thinking longer term about the Affordable Care Act’s prospects than the current congressional session, writes HSPH Prof. John McDonough. (March 10, 2011)

Taking the Pulse of Public Opinion

HSPH’s Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Policy Translation and Leadership Development, directs the Harvard Opinion Research Program, which focuses on understanding public knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about major social policy issues. He also co-directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health project on understanding Americans’ Health Agenda, including a joint series with National Public Radio. Read coverage of some of the recent polls Blendon has conducted.

Almost Half of Uninsured Expect No Help From Health Reform
(September 12, 2011)

When It Comes to Quality, New Poll Shows Americans Give U.S. Health Care Low Grades

(April 12, 2011)

Americans Remain Divided Over Health Reform with an Uptick in Public Opposition as GOP Ramped Up Repeal Campaign

(January 26, 2011)

Poll Analysis Shows Americans Have Conflicting Views about Spending on the Nation’s Public Health System

(November 9, 2010)

Poll Analysis Shows Prospective Voters for Democratic Congressional Candidates and Prospective Voters for Republicans Hold Starkly Different Views on What the Next Congress Should Do About New Health Care Law

(October 28, 2010)

Health Care Reform in Massachusetts
In 2006, Massachusetts enacted a health care reform law mandating that nearly every resident obtain health insurance coverage.

Emergency Department Visits Down For First Time Since Health Reform, Survey Finds

(WBUR, January 26, 2012)

Many Uninsured in Massachusetts Likely Eligible for Public Health Insurance Programs
HSPH Prof. Nancy Turnbull wrote a post on WBUR’s CommonHealth blog about why many low-income Massachusetts residents remain uninsured. (December 15, 2011) Read more of Turnbull’s posts and interviews on CommonHealth.

Mass. Hospitals May Lose $322m
HSPH Prof. Nancy Kane comments on a proposal to lower the costs of Medicare and reduce the federal deficit that could lead to Massachusetts teaching hospitals losing $322 million, or about two-thirds of the federal dollars they receive for the training of medical residents. (Boston Globe, July 8, 2011)

Support for Massachusetts Landmark Health Reform Law Rises in 2011
(June 6, 2011)

Health Care for (Almost) Everyone
(Harvard Public Health Review, Winter 2008)