What counts as "success" for ObamaCare?

Health outcomes. It’s been crowded out by the website drama like everything else, but one of the major divides between Obamacare supporters and skeptics was over whether, and to what extent, the law would literally be a lifesaver — with writers like Klein famously invoking “lives saved” figures in the hundreds of thousands during the run-up to the law’s passage, while doubters cited the surprisingly-weak link between insurance status and health outcomes, and raised the potential public-health downsides, in terms of innovations lost or never sought, of increasing government control.

Now public health data can be even fuzzier and more debatable than cost inflation and enrollment numbers. But even with lower-than-hoped-for enrollment figures overall, we should still be able to see some of the happy consequences, at some point, if Klein et. al. are right: Looking back from 2020 or 2025, certainly, there should be some kind of disjuncture between U.S. health outcomes pre- and post-Obamacare (maybe a reversal of this trend, at the very least?), and some kind of outcomes gap should open between states that implemented the law fully and states that refused the extra Medicaid dollars.

So here, too, I’m curious what liberals expect to see, what they’ll count as vindication, what would disappoint them, and what kind of results they think will be sufficient to prove that Obamacare is, in fact, a lifesaving success.

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