Media and Health Policy Processes
There is no doubt that politics plays a crucial role in healthcare legislation and reforms in the United States. After all, the U.S. Congress passes laws, and so automatically any proposed legislation is passes or fails due to how political representatives act on the law. Professor Thomas Oliver (John Hopkins University) makes that point abundantly clear in his scholarly article. This paper references Oliver’s article and a peer-reviewed piece in the journal Economics, Management, and Financial Markets (Boubacar, 2006).
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
It should be noted that when Barack Obama ran for election among his major points was the need to reform healthcare policies in America — and the need to create new laws and policies. He was elected by a wide margin and he set out to develop legislation that could bring meaningful reform and could provide insurance for an estimated 40 million Americans that were uninsured at that time. Oliver explains that when there is a “socially credible threat” or a “clearly perceived cause of a public health problem,” politicians tend to act in response to those issues (Oliver, 198-199).
This brings to mind Obama’s passionate advocacy for a better healthcare approach by the American government; he stated (in 2009) that every thirty seconds in America an uninsured family files for bankruptcy because of enormous medical bills or exorbitant hospital bills that piled up due to illness or accident (CNN). “The cost of health care has weighed down our economy and our conscious long enough,” he stated in a speech to a joint session of Congress (CNN). Healthcare costs have risen “â€¦four times faster than wages,” Obama asserted, which qualifies as a “socially credible threat” and a “public health problem.”
Meanwhile, after reading Oliver’s piece, a quick search on Google references the divisive politics that were involved in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (shortened to just the Affordable Care Act — ACA) legislation in 2009 and 2010. One Republican member of the House (Anh Cao, R-LA) supported the initial vote on the ACA, and no U.S. Senators from the GOP supported the ACA. Politics in America is so polarized today that it comes as no shock on those watching news on television that the Republicans have voted 54 times in the House to defund or dismantle the ACA (OKeefe, 2014).
There is a theory circulating that it is more a matter that the GOP doesn’t want Obama to have any legislative victories — than that they actually oppose specific policies. This has some validity when looking at the votes on key Obama legislation: not one House Republican supported the Obama stimulus package and only 3 Republicans in the Senate supported it.
Two potential impacts explained by the Boubacar article
That having been said, in the Boubacar piece, the professor points out that 88.2% of Wisconsin farm owners agree that the healthcare in the U.S. needed reform, but 56.7% said they had no plans “â€¦to accommodate changes in the healthcare reforms” that ACA calls for (Boubacar, 2014, 11). And 53% of those farm owners say they “less likely” to provide health insurance for their employees (Boubacar, 11). That flies in the face of one of the mandates of ACA: employers must provide coverage “or face a financial penalty,” Boubacar explains (12).
At least two things can result (or have resulted) vis-a-vis the farmers in Wisconsin as they consider the ACA and the health of their employees. Low-cost insurance has been made available through the “exchanges” as part of the ACA; however, small firms (including farmers) with lower-wage workforces “may stop providing coverage for an estimated 8 million to 9 million employees despite the option to purchase individual, subsidized, and comprehensive coverage through exchanges” (Boubacar, 13). On the other hand, those farmers who employ workers could be protected against “â€¦costly out-of-pocket expenses” if they provide “revamped and high performance health systems” that offer reduced long-term costs of coverage (and are available through the ACA) (Boubacar, 13). Moreover, those farmers purchasing insurance for their workers could have payment arrangements “that improve patient experiences and health outcomes” (Boubacar, 14).
In conclusion, Boubacar expresses the notion that there is a need to “expand farm owners’ education about the ACA” so those farmers will be able to “maintain a viable financial environment for their businesses.” In the end, notwithstanding the drumbeat of negativity from Republicans and from media people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the ACA will become a helpful, healthy alternative to those who have no insurance, and to farmers who need affordable alternatives for the coverage their employees need.
Boubacar, I, and Foster, S. (2014). Analysis of Small Business Owners’ Perception of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Evidence from Wisconsin Farmers.
Economics, Management, and Financial Markets, 9(1), 11-20.
CNN. (2009). Obama calls for health-care reform in 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.brandnewz.com.
O’Keefe, E. (2014). The House has voted 54 times in 4 years on Obamacare. Here’s the full list. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com.
Oliver, T.R. (2006). The Politics of Public Health Policy. Annual Review of Public Health,
Vol. 27, 195-233.
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