Refinement of the Affordable Care Act: A Progressive Perspective

Olveen Carrasquillo, Michael Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the most significant expansion of health coverage since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted. The law resulted in approximately 13-20 million uninsured persons gaining coverage. Despite these gains, the ACA has numerous shortcomings. For progressives, the ACA was a unique opportunity to provide access to high-quality, comprehensive, equitable health coverage to all persons living in the United States. Using this perspective as our framework, in this review we highlight some of the limitations of the ACA and potential areas for refinement. We conclude that the ACA fell far short of the goal of achieving universal coverage and that the coverage made available through the ACA was not equitable. In addition, the ACA expanded coverage by building onto a highly fragmented, inefficient, and costly health system. Thus, it did little to control health costs. A more fiscally prudent approach would have been built upon more successful existing programs, such as a Medicare for All.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalAnnual Review of Medicine
StatePublished - Jan 29 2018


  • Health care reform
  • Health insurance
  • Health policy
  • Health services accessibility
  • Universal coverage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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