A reflection on this week's ghU by Marina Mai: 

This week in ghU, we talked about The Affordable Care Act. We learned that so far under the ACA, uninsured rates have dropped from 17.3% in 2013 to 11.7% in 2015. Costs are being curbed to cost 11% less than originally expected. Additionally, the Supreme Court Case King v. Brunwell in June of 2015 established that undoing the ACA would require an act of Congress rather than just the next President's executive order.

Next we went over the 2016 Presidential candidates' stance on healthcare. Representing the Democrats, Hillary Clinton supports the ACA but opposes single-payer healthcare. She presented a plan to decrease the cost of prescription medication. Bernie Sanders supports the ACA and is in favor of a single payer system. He introduced prescription drug affordability legislation which has not been discussed as of yet. Representing the Republicans, Donald Trump is against the ACA with its high deductibles and lack of choice. He would prefer to give states the authority. Interestingly enough, in his autobiography of 2000, he was in favor of universal healthcare and the single payer system. Next, Ben Carson is against the ACA for its restriction. He proposed an independent health savings account that would start from birth. Questions came up as to how this would address pre-existing conditions or congenital birth defects for example. Lastly, Jeb Bush is against the ACA, advocating instead for a system focused on quality. He claims the ACA focuses on access rather than quality and is financed unsustainably.

In our discussions, we looked at these systems of healthcare in our free-market economy and within the context that health is a human right. One group was interested to know more about Ben Carson's health savings account and how that would be feasible logistically. Another group shared out that the rhetoric of choice and individualism in America has greatly influenced our healthcare system as opposed to those in Europe for example. 

GhU then presented the timeline for reform under the ACA. These include: By 2015 doctors will be paid for quality not quantity of care (incentivizing doctors to spend more time with Medicaid patients) and that employers with over 50 full-time employees must offer health insurance. By 2018, the 40% tax on Cadillac health care plans will begin. By 2020, there should be no more gaps in the Medicare prescription drug plan (the doughnut hole). In our group discussions, our group discussed how the 40% tax on Cadillac health care might in fact be entrenching our healthcare deeper into the capitalist healthcare model in the way that it mirrors income tax. 

With the announcement that the presidential debates will be held at WashU, this ghU was a great starting point to staying informed about the platforms of our candidates. It was a good reminder that healthcare intersects with many other issues and a candidate's healthcare platform is often an indicator of views on other policies. 

Check out these links for more information on the topic. 

Comparative look at US health system

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2014/jun/mirror-mirror

Affordable Care Act

Basics http://obamacarefacts.com/whatis-obamacare/

10 things to know http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-top-10/

Pros and Cons http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-pros-and-cons/

Reform timeline (11 year plan extending to 2022) http://obamacarefacts.com/health-care-reform-timeline/

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