May 13, 2013

Robert J. Samuelson’s May 10 Washington Forum column, “Why Obamacare is oversold,” gave too much weight to a short-term study examining a long-term issue, glossed over the immediate benefits apparent in Oregon’s Medicaid expansion and failed to recognize that health insurance does not equal health care.

The expansion increased Medicaid utilization and spending, nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenses for individuals and decreased rates of depression. Other outcomes were improved, although not to an extent that was scientifically significant.

Oregon was among the first states to support the Medicaid expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act. As we expanded access to health insurance to hundreds of thousands of people through numerous reforms in the past 25 years, we have seen firsthand that increasing access to health insurance is only the first step. The expansion of health insurance must be tied to reform of the health-care system if we want to see improvements. That’s what we’re working on right now, but it will take time. Oregon didn’t wait for a study to change; this study should convince others that change is long overdue.

Earl Blumenauer, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Oregon’s 3rd District in the House.