Community Health House is hosting a health policy debate in Wallach Lounge from 12-2 pm. The event is cosponsored by CU Dems, CUCR, CU Debate, Health Leads, and the Phoenix Project. There will be free lunch provided by Havana Central. Bwog was interested to hear more about how health policy relates to Columbia students, and so asked CU Dems and CUCR for a preview of today’s debate.

CU Dems:

We think that everyone in America should have access to healthcare regardless of ability to pay. We believe that families should have to worry that they’ll go bankrupt, that their kids will get kicked of their plans if they get sick, or that they need to put off basic preventative care because they can’t afford it. That’s why the Affordable Care Act is so important. It’s the first major piece of healthcare reform legislation in over forty years, and it provides vital protections to every American regardless, of wealth, gender, age, or sexual orientation. Obamacare provides health insurance to 30 million people, including 3 million young people and students. It bans discrimination based on preexisting conditions and stops insurance companies from kicking people off the plans if they actually get sick. It bans insurance companies from charging women more for healthcare and ends discrimination against transgender people in the healthcare system.  It gives women more control over their healthcare decisions and ensures all women have free access to contraception, and ensure that everyone has access to vital preventative services. Obamacare makes healthcare more affordable, more accessible, and moves us much closer to universal care for all, and every single person in this country benefits from healthcare reform.


College students find themselves at a particularly interesting junction when considering President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and its implications. We know that entitlement programs, once created, are damn near impossible to change, let alone end (think Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security). So in looking at the ACA we must remember that these requirements will likely be upon us for the rest of our lives. That means 17 distinct taxes that will increase our hospital insurance payroll tax by 25%, charge us 40% on so-called Cadillac plans (you know, the ones that cover preventative care), tax our doctors and hospitals for importing necessary medical equipment, and—as if that wasn’t enough—tax us even more if we decide not to purchase health insurance! It means limiting deductibles while raising premiums 45% on those 18-24, and 35% on those 25-29. It means adding $2.3 trillion dollars to the federal deficit by 2023. And—to my Democrat friends—it means letting unelected federal bureaucrats decide what “minimum benefits” are, putting abortion coverage for low-income Americans in jeoparady. President Obama has made efforts to woo young people to his plan by allowing you to stay on your parents premiums. But for those of us whose parents don’t have health insurance (mine don’t) or who plan on growing older than 26, the costs quickly start to outweigh the benefits.

There is an alternative. The Romney Ryan plan, in addition to promising to repeal the 2400 page monster that is Obamacare, pledges to actually save us money in the long run. It allows for strategic cuts to Medicare through vouchers and slowly raising the minimum age. It offers free market alternatives that lower premiums, like allowing you to buy insurance across state lines. It gives states the freedoms to develop programs that best suit their citizens through block grants and more flexible federal standards. The downside? You might get booted off your parents’ plan at 25, not 26. I guess they had to draw the line somewhere.

As the citizens who will carry the burden of the ACA the longest, it is imperative that we openly and intelligently evaluate the merits of the two plans. On November 6th, we effectively choose between a plan that inexplicably both cuts our benefits and raises our taxes, versus one that offers a free market strategy for lowering premiums and increasing coverage. Fortunately, unlike that multiple choice question on your Gulati midterm, this decision is easy.

Nashoba Santhanam

President, CUCR

ideological weapons by Shutterstock