Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Yankee Doodling

Obama turns his hand to health policy analysis

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 15 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4442
  1. Douglas Kamerow, senior scholar, Robert Graham Center for policy studies in primary care, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University, and associate editor, The BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

But the US president’s JAMA article was not externally peer reviewed

As someone who writes about health policy, I was interested to see Barack Obama’s recent article in JAMA assessing the Affordable Care Act.1 It is not uncommon to see a US president commenting in a newspaper op-ed column, and a few previous presidents have also written commentaries for medical journals. But Obama’s six page JAMA “special communication,” with six graphs—several with new data—and 68 references, seemed more like a research article than an op-ed piece.

Unsurprisingly the article received a lot of attention from the journal and from readers. Not many medical journal articles have three accompanying commentaries (one by the editor) when they are published. Fewer still stimulate a near full page editorial in the New York Times.2 Obama’s article invites questions about its …

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