Replacing the Affordable Care Act with the proposed American Health Care Act is a negative shift in priorities that redistributes wealth at the expense of Americans’ health, according to a lively panel discussion at a March 22 Paul Torrens Health Forum, which took place two days before the bill was tabled.
The discussion – titled “ACA Repeal and Replace: What’s the Latest?” — was moderated by Thomas Rice, distinguished professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and co-sponsored by the Fielding School and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Audience members gasped as Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, described the replacement plan’s steep cuts to Medicaid subsidies for low-income households and warned that the AHCA is “a huge mistake and a public health disaster.” Kominski added that one positive result of the ACA repeal/replacement is the return of discussions about a single-payer health system.
Mark A. Peterson, Center faculty associate and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, noted the proposed law’s “significant redistribution of wealth back to the top” but also presciently predicted that the Republican party did not have the “traction” to advance the legislation. He said during a discussion of whether health care was a “right” or a “privilege” that most advanced economies and democracies provide their citizens with some type of health care program, except one — “and that’s us.”