12th Grade Government New York

Affordable Care Act

This annotated inquiry leads students through an investigation of a public policy debate by studying the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The compelling question—“Why is the Affordable Care Act so controversial?”—calls out the persistent debate around this legislation and asks students to grapple with the roots of disagreement through the examination of the origins, opportunities, shortcomings, and constitutionality of the ACA. Throughout the inquiry, students are working with a variety of data (e.g., polling numbers, graphical representations, and economic costs) and trying to interpret, create, and analyze data as well as considering the reliability and trustworthiness of the sources.


Compelling Question:

Why Is the Affordable Care Act So Controversial?

Staging the Question:

Investigate trends in public opinion polling to understand what groups are in favor and opposed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and whether perspectives have changed over time.

Supporting Question Who were the uninsured before the ACA?

Formative Task Create a graphic depiction of the uninsured before the ACA.

Sources Source A: Image bank: Graphs depicting facts about the uninsured before the Affordable Care Act


Supporting Question How does the ACA work?

Formative Task List key components of the ACA and write a paragraph summary of the goals of the ACA and the problems of the ACA.

Sources Source A: The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare
Source B: “Improving Quality and Lowering Health Care Costs”
Source C: “Success of Kentucky’s Health Plan Comes With New Obstacles,”


Supporting Question Why is the ACA a constitutional controversy?

Formative Task Perform a reader’s theater of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and write a paragraph majority opinion on the case or a paragraph dissenting opinion on the case.

Sources Source A: Supreme Court case brief: National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (excerpt)
Source B: Court transcript: National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (excerpt)
Source C: “Supreme Court on Health Care Law: How They Voted, What They Wrote”


Supporting Question Why is the ACA still controversial?

Formative Task Develop a claim about why the ACA is still controversial.

Sources Source A: "How an Adverse Supreme Court Ruling Would Send Obamacare Into a Tailspin"
Source B: “Six Charts to Explain Health-Care Polling“
Source C: “Following Midterms, Both Democrats and Republicans Expect Washington to Continue to Debate the Affordable Care Act”

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Why is the ACA so controversial? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, or essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence and information from contemporary sources.
Extension: Create a student guide to the ACA that explains why 12th graders should care about this act. Within the guide, include a list of credible resources for learning more about the ACA.