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The Affordable Care Act and Competition Policy: Antidote or Placebo?

Thomas L. Greaney

Saint Louis University School of Law

September 20, 2010

Oregon Law Review, Forthcoming

In the run-up to its enactment, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) elicited howls of protest from opponents who claimed the federal government was “taking over” the American healthcare system, “micromanaging” medicine, and generally exposing the nation to the bête noire of “socialized medicine.” Hyperbole, misrepresentation and chauvinism aside, these sound bites suffer from a deeper flaw: they mischaracterize the fundamental thrust of the new law. Though the law establishes significant new regulatory authority, this is neither a new development (indeed it can be faulted for preserving pre-existing regulatory regimes) nor does it impair market competition. To the contrary, much of the law aims at improving conditions conducive to effective competition. However, it is far from clear that market competition will work out as scripted by theorists and proponents of the new law. Myriad market imperfections still complicate market interactions and regulation needs to be carefully tailored to assure effective implementation and minimize unintended consequences. Of even greater concern are the problematic market structures that pervade provider and payer markets. Concentration, embedded practices and professional norms may cause markets to operate suboptimally even if reform is implemented smoothly. Further, the ACA’s effectiveness in achieving its goals depends on the executive branch maintaining a steady hand in countless regulatory determinations required under the new law. This article surveys some of the misconceptions about health reform and the challenges it confronts in realizing proponents’ goals.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: Affordable Care Act, Antitrust, Accountable Care Organization, ACO, Health Reform, Competition Policy, Medical Home, Health Insurance, PPACA

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Date posted: September 21, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Greaney, Thomas L., The Affordable Care Act and Competition Policy: Antidote or Placebo? (September 20, 2010). Oregon Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1680115 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1680115

Contact Information

Thomas L. Greaney (Contact Author)
Saint Louis University School of Law ( email )
100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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Footnotes:  141