Obamacare Architect: 'This Is Bipartisan Once We Get Past the Election'

By Susan Jones | April 1, 2014 | 5:58 AM EDT

Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., an 'architect' of Obamacare (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Obamacare's first open enrollment period technically has ended, but efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act and the entire health care system aren't over -- and Republicans eventually will join the effort to fix things, says former White House health adviser Ezekiel Emanuel.

"This is bipartisan once we get past the election, or whenever the Republicans are going to say all right, we're going to move off health care and onto something else."

Emanuel spoke with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Monday night, both of them jubilant over the final surge of healthcare.gov applications, which reportedly will bring the total open-enrollment number to around 7 million, higher than many people expected.

"If you don't have enough people in the system, it will collapse of its own weight, and other exchanges and other places did collapse," Emanuel said. "And you know, fortunately, the 7 million...will be reached by the end here pretty comfortably -- and I think that shows it's been a major -- there's really pent-up demand. People really want insurance, and they want affordable insurance, and when offered that possibility, they will come out of the woodwork.

"Of course they're going to delay until the end. We're all procrastinators -- but there is really big demand, and that really is the bottom line here."

Still to be determined -- how many of the 7 million exchange applicants have paid their premiums; how many will get subsidies; and how many were previously uninsured, since insuring the uninsured was the goal of the Democrats' law.

Emanuel said "there are a number of things" that still can be done, both administratively and legislatively, to improve both the healthcare.gov website and to control medical costs:

"We're about to go further into the weeds of, how do you design a really good website; what do you have to do to make sure it's vibrant and people want to come and shop -- what do you have to do to make cost control work."

He said conservatives agree with some of the fixes he wants to pursue:

"The funny thing is, if you talk to policymakers on the right -- conservatives -- they agree with me about 70 percent of the time about things that we ought to be doing to improve the American health care system: changing off the fee-for-service payment system; getting more competitive bidding on government provision of services so you can bring the prices down; having more administrative simplification so there's not so much paperwork and you can save money that way.

"So there are a number of things, and again, this is bipartisan once we get past the election, or whenever the Republicans are going to say all right, we're going to move off health care and onto something else -- because the fact of the matter is, we can do things to improve the health care system and improve this Affordable Care Act and how the whole system functions. And we should get on with it already."

Maddow exulted that the entire health care conversation is "about to get more boring than it has been," so Americans will lose interest in Republican efforts to defeat the law.

Also See:
Obamacare Architect: 'You Don't Need a Doctor for Every Part of Your Health Care'