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Professor Robert Field Moderates Panel on Post-Election Fate of Affordable Care Act

November 16, 2012

A panel of experts in the field of public health convened at the Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences for "Fever Drop? What the Election Means for Health Reform," a discussion of how President Obama’s re-election will affect the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Professor Robert Field moderated the discussion with Drexel School of Public Health Dean Marla J. Gold providing the keynote address.

Now that the election is over, with approximately 30 percent of our population obese, high health care costs and low quality of care, Gold expects more and more people to recognize that the old way of administering health care is broken.   

One way the ACA aims to fix the system is to shift the health care perspective from health treatment to health prevention, Gold said. By doing so, it also “changes the game” for everyone in health care, with health care professionals' compensation focusing on the quality of care and not quantity of care, she added.

Panelist Valerie Arkoosh, president of the National Physicians Alliance similarly remarked that we need to move away from the old system of health care, which incentivized physicians to perform more services rather than focus on patient treatment, and to the ACA's goal to promote quality treatment.  Giridhar Mallya, director of public policy and planning for the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health, agreed that quality care, with a focus on preventative care, is one of the ACA’s strengths. Citing Philadelphia’s success in reducing tobacco use, Mallya argued that local governments have demonstrated the value of preventative care.

Laval Miller-Wilson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, remarked that insurance exchanges, the portals through which Americans can compare and purchase health insurance, are essential to the ACA’s success. States had been reluctant to set up these exchanges on their own because they had been awaiting the outcome of the election, Miller-Wilson said.  However, this delay has left states like Pennsylvania ill-equipped to set up adequate exchanges themselves. Thus, the federal government will, at least initially, create and moderate many health exchanges, Miller-Wilson claimed.

Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Law Project, underscored the ACA’s Medicaid expansion which, if adopted by the states, will extend Medicaid coverage to more poor Americans. Ward claimed the expansion was a “great deal” for the states because the federal government will cover 100 percent of the Medicaid costs for the first three years and, more importantly, infuses 17 to 19 billion dollars into state health care systems. This will not only improve health care management but create jobs, Ward claimed.

Furthermore, for those who still doubt that the ACA has the potential to improve our health care system, Ward said they need only look at the impact the Massachusetts healthcare system, which served as the model of the ACA, had on increasing coverage and reducing costs.

The panel was co-sponsored by the Earle Mack School of Law and the Drexel University School of Public Health