Public invited to learn more about future of Obamacare through free, online U-M teach-out

May 3, 2017
Written By:
Laurel Thomas

ANN ARBOR—As Republicans struggle to get the votes on a second health care bill in the House, faculty at the University of Michigan School of Public Health invite the public to participate in an online learning opportunity focused on what’s at stake.

Rich Hirth, chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy, and colleagues will conduct a May 12 teach-out, “The Future of Obamacare: Repeal, Repair, or Replace?”

Teach-outs are free learning opportunities on the edX platform that allow participants to go online over a weekend to learn at their own pace about a timely issue.

In the teach-out, Hirth and colleagues plan to address the economic, legal and public health implications of potential changes to the plan the nation has come to know as Obamacare.

“We think that citizens interested in becoming more knowledgeable and more engaged in this issue and the legislative process will benefit from the teach-out, develop a greater understanding of the facts and the tradeoffs, and be interested to learn some of the tools that they can use to try to influence the legislative process,” he said.

Hirth said many people don’t know all aspects of the act and its goals, since most of the attention has been about undoing aspects of the plan that allowed millions of previously uninsured Americans to receive health coverage.

“About 99.9 percent of media coverage is about the insurance coverage part of the act, the health insurance exchanges that have replaced the individual insurance market, the Medicaid expansions, and to a lesser extent the ability of young adults to remain on parents’ policies for a longer period of time,” he said.

And while discussions about changing this aspect of the act have created much concern, Hirth says there are other elements of Obamacare that seldom receive headlines but would have great impact on the health care industry and, ultimately, patient care. These include value-based reforms and public health programs.

“If you kind of look at the overall spending on health in this country, the vast majority is on personal health services,” he said. “In fact, just the overhead of running the government health insurance programs and the private health industry dwarfs spending on public health programs.

“As a nation, we haven’t had a very clear conversation about what is the government’s role and what is the private role. Is universal coverage a universal goal or is it something we don’t see as an objective that we’re trying to pursue?”

Other faculty involved with the teach-out include Peter Jacobson, professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health; Paula Lantz, professor at the Ford School of Public Policy; Marianne Udow-Phillips, executive director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation; and Kenneth Warner, the Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor of Public Health and former dean at the School of Public Health.


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