Health care 2012: Political science expert and students weigh in

Molly Knight, 21, junior, political science. “I am pro Obamacare because I love the idea that we can stay on our parents’ health insurance plan until we’re 26. A lot of my siblings are paying back student loans and graduating, it puts less pressure on you to find a job immediately after graduating.”

Matt Lofgren

With Tuesday’s election fast approaching, one issue has remained a large talking point in the presidential, senate and congressional races.

Although the passing of the Affordable Care Act changed the game of health care in the U.S., its controversy in the public eye has been in the media since 2010.

“It has long been recognized that a significant problem that confronts America is health care and essentially the lack of coverage,” said political science professor Mark Cassell. “We have one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, health care systems in the world, yet we have close to 50 million people that don’t have coverage, many of whom are students.”

Through systems like Medicaid and Medicare — health care systems geared toward families that live in poverty and elderly people — the government provides funding to people to spend on the private market for health care. Members of the military gain access to the Veterans Affairs’ health care plan that is also run by the government.

“Despite that fact that we have these three systems, there’s still a large number of people, including lots and lots of students who still lack health care,” Cassell said. “The lack of health care coverage is very much linked to bankruptcies and long-term debt. You’re essentially one accident away from being in significant debt if you don’t have any kind of health coverage.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, those 26 years old or younger may remain under their parents’ health care coverage.

“[The Affordable Care Act] purposes a requirement, like driving a car, that says you need to have insurance if you can afford it,” Cassell said.

President Barack Obama has said that his plan for national health care was based on Governor Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, where there is state health insurance.

“I think it’s exactly like [Romney’s] plan in Massachusetts,” Cassell said.

“The arguments that [Obama] made for a mandate requirement is the identical argument that [Romney] made in Massachusetts, and frankly lots and lots of conservatives have made for a long time.”

Another argument that has been popular is that the Affordable Care Act is a socialist movement. This argument fails to hold any credibility in Cassell’s opinion.

“[Calling the Affordable Care Act socialist] I just think, they don’t understand or looked at the law and typically those kinds of responses lack any alternative,” Cassell said. “In fact, it’s highly capitalistic in the sense that it primarily utilizing the private sector.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].