June 18, 2019 | 72° F

NJ?Public Health panel looks into Obamacare

Photo by Lianne Ng |

The University’s Chapter of the New Jersey Public Health Association host a forum last night about affordable health care.

One-fifth of the U.S. population has no health insurance coverage, but the Affordable Care Act could provide them with a low-cost alternative, said Alan Monheit, a research professor at the University’s Center for State Health Policy, last night during a panel discussion.

Panelists at “The Future of Health Care Reform — The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the 2012 Presidential Election,” sponsored by the University’s chapter of the New Jersey Public Health Association, looked at the act critically in terms of how it would affect U.S. citizens.

Monheit, a professor of health economics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, said the act should be carried out because there are so many uninsured American citizens and health care makes up a large amount of the country’s economy.

“Health care spending is a huge part of the gross domestic product, and if it continues the same way, it will be 30 percent of the gross domestic product,” he said.

The projected cost of the Affordable Care Act is $940 billion over the next 10 years, Monheit said, which well help reduce the number of uninsured U.S. citizens.

“The Affordable Care Act is a fundamental shift in health care spending, but it doesn’t replace the current insurance system in America,” he said.

While the act will not be fully implemented until 2014, certain aspects of the act have already gone into effect, like the expanded dependent insurance age to 26, Monheit said.

David Henry, a part-time lecturer in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said the act is controversial because it lacks a public option.

“A public safety net is [needed] for the people. [Another issue] is how much is insurance going to cost?” said Henry, health officer for the Princeton Regional Health Department.

Monheit said the act states people should put their own money into insurance, which ensures that everyone is paying.

“An individual mandate says everyone should contribute to their health care cost,” he said. “The mandate makes sure people don’t get a free ride on their health care.”

But James Florio, a part-time lecturer at the Bloustein School, said this aspect of the act could affect health insurance companies.

“One person’s cost is another person’s revenue,” said Florio, a former N.J. governor.

There are many proponents and opponents to the act, Henry said.

“Proponents of the act are Democrats, Congress, Senate, the poor, working poor and uninsured,” he said. “Opponents of the act are Republicans, tea party members and some small businesses, since they aren’t sure how it will affect them.”

Florio said some people think the bill has not addressed enough issues, including the lack of a public option, which would allow the public to decide how they pay for insurance.

“A small group of people say that the bill hasn’t gone far enough,” he said. “They think there should be a public option [in the act].”

Obstacles in the implementation of the act, set forth by President Barack Obama’s administration, could arise if a Republican president is elected in 2012, Florio said.

“Republican candidates say they will repeal the act,” he said. “Undoubtedly they will try to pull things out of [the act].”

Jessica Kapuscinski, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the panel was held at an appropriate time.

“The Supreme Court just [started reviewing] the act today, so this is a good time to have a panel on the issue,” she said.

Sarah Kelly, a Douglass College alumna and president of the New Jersey Public Health Association, believes everyone should have quality health care, and that the act can realize that idea.

“Everyone in America should have the right to affordable health care, and this act will ensure it happens,” she said. “[This panel is] for educating people about what’s going on.”

While many have a negative view on the act, some see its merits, but are wary about the time it will take to implement it.

“The [Affordable Care Act] is a huge step forward, and it’s good for policies,” Henry said. “But it will take maybe 20 years before we see [the act’s] full effect.”

By Richard Conte

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