Students and panelists examine the uncertainty and complexity in the US health care system

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Photo by Lincoln Op’t Hof

Students and panel members discussed the current condition and future of health care in the United States at the Pizza and Politics event held in the Ragan Theater Sept. 19.

Panel members highlighted health care conditions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. They discussed Medicaid and how Medicaid expansion, as expected under the ACA, has been met with politically-motivated resistance.

“For whatever reason, states decided not to expand,” Steven Sylvester, panel member and assistant professor of history and political science, said. “The research I’ve done, it’s not about need. It has absolutely nothing to do with need. It all boils down to politics. Whether or not it is a Republican-led legislature, whether it is a Republican governor, it boils down to politics.”

Whether health care is viewed as a right or a privilege was also explored.

“Right or privilege to health care is one of the basic questions that people have to wrestle with,” David Lewis, assistant operations director of the Utah Medicaid Program and panel member, said. “Many people may agree that health care is a basic human right, yet the question becomes, ‘Who pays for it?’ That is what we have to grapple with as a society, and it is highly politicized.”

Pre-law freshman Lisa Schmidt asked why other countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Brazil can have free health care when each of those countries has a “net worth” that is a fraction of the United States.

Health care in those countries is not free, according to Lewis.

“People that work and pay taxes, pay for everybody else,” Lewis said. “It gets back to a philosophical argument … We as a society, do we believe that everyone should have access to medical care … Personally, I do. I think everybody should have access and health care financing… Does everybody have a right to access health care, yes, but that means you have to have financing, and somebody has to pay for it.”

Panel members also spoke about the future of health care in the United States. They discussed the current Republican health care plan, which is known as the Graham/Cassidy bill. Republicans must pass the bill before Sept. 30. If they do not, they will need more than a simple majority in voting to pass any legislation to repeal and replace the ACA.