Horwitz, Levy: Argument against the Affordable Care Act based on shaky premise

June 5, 2012

Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic, featured a blog post by Jill R. Horwitz and Helen Levy in his column, "Will Bogus Policy Arguments Swing the Supreme Court?"

Cohn challenges the veracity of an amicus brief filed by a conservative advocacy group that opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2010. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the law's constitutionality in March, particularly the health insurance mandate. The brief argues that mandating health insurance would set a precedent requiring citizens to make other compulsory purchases.

Cohn cites the blog post for Health Affairs by Horwitz and Levy, which argues the health insurance market is far from "perfectly competitive." This distinguishes it from the markets for other goods, where government intervention is discouraged. Horwitz and Levy continue: "The key insight from economics is that in the presence of these significant market imperfections, appropriately structured government intervention—which in this case means guaranteed issue, community rating, and an individual mandate—can actually promote efficiency, solving the problem of market failure and making the pie bigger for everyone."

Horwitz is a law professor and co-director of the University's Law and Economics Program, and Levy is a research associate professor and a former senior economist on President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. Read Horwitz and Levy's full blog post here.