Taken by Jinyoung Ko

Health care reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were the primary topics of part two of the Meet the Ballot Political Speakers Series on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Panelists included Dr. Bradley Gilbert, CEO of Inland Empire Health Plan, Lisa Folberg, Vice President Medical and Regulatory Policy, California Medical Association, Dr. Rebecca Patchin, Chair on the Board of Trustees for the American Medical Association (AMA), and Dr. Michael Nduati Associate Dean of Medical Affairs of the UCR School of Medicine. After a night of discussion, the general consensus suggested needed reform to transform the ACA into a more workable policy, in terms of cost-control and extended coverage.

Signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama, the ACA is one of the most extensive regulatory health care laws since the enactment of Medicaid in 1965. According to the moderator, Dr. Emma Simmons, many administrations have tried to do something to change the health care system but nothing has ever been done until now.

“Although we have the best medical care in the whole world, we spend double, triple, what other industrialized countries do, but we fair poorly. On a [World Health Organization] list we are ranked 37 despite our spending and technology. We have a major problem for access in the country for the under and uninsured,” continued Dr. Simmons.

When asked to simplify the ACA, the general consensus provided that financially-efficient health care coverage improves the overall quality and accessibility for all Americans.

Dr. Patchin pointed out that some Americans would be declined coverage through their insurance providers because they forgot to mark that they had acne on their insurance application. As a result, patients would be denied life-saving treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. Dr. Patchin supported the ACA because the act provided more access, where problems like this “donut hole coverage” problem could be solved.

Dr. Lisa Folberg mentioned that the ACA expanded government programs, yet restricted insurance agencies in terms of funding for patient care, while limiting profit.

First and foremost, Dr. Gilbert stated that he supported the ACA, but questioned how much the act has improved the overall health care system. By providing more affordable access to insurance, he wondered why the ACA did not provide direct access to care. The Insurance Exchange provided by this bill will make insurance cheaper, but one of the problems lies in the fact that there is no cost control. People might pay the fine created rather than pay to be covered because they find the fine more affordable or making better sense than to make such an expensive long term investment.

Overall, the panelists agreed that the ACA needs work, and lent a hand to attendees to make the fine print of the complex law much more comprehensible.

Part three of the Before the Ballot Political Speaker Series takes place on Oct. 30 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Located in HUB 302, the topic for the night is the debate over gay marriage.