3 Approaches to Health Policy

“Health care” is one of the most searched-for terms on Google related to the 2016 presidential election. It seems that health policy is among the issues that are at the forefront of the public’s mind today, and it will continue to be a topic of interest in upcoming months and years. Here is a look at how health policy was approached in the past as well as where it stands today and what may happen with it in the future.

Past Presidents Strove for National Health Insurance

According to an article from silive, the debate over health policy began over a century ago when Theodore Roosevelt, former president, began the push for national health insurance. However, World War I and related events took health policy out of the spotlight. Over the following decades, other leaders, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy, all took up the cause. Obstacles such as national circumstances and congressional disapproval stood in the way.

The efforts to bring about healthcare reform continued. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all aimed to bring about change. Each of them managed to effect small but significant changes. For example, Clinton signed a plan that helped to provide assistance to families with children who did not qualify for Medicaid.

The Current State of Health Policy

Image via Flickr by BU Interactive News_1

Image via Flickr by BU Interactive News

Past presidents had an impact on health policy, but it was under President Barack Obama that the healthcare system took on its current shape. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was first brought to light in 2009, according to an article from eHealth Insurance. In March 2010, the president signed the act into law amidst significant debate and opposition. All of the Republicans in the House, along with a handful of Democrats, voted against the plan.

The goal of the Affordable Care Act, as stated on ObamaCareFacts.com, is to “give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in U.S. health care spending.”

Has the act been successful? To an extent. Writing for the New York Times, an economist said in September 2015 that “it did lead to the largest extension of health care coverage of any measure since the creation of Medicare almost 50 years earlier. Five years after its passage and a year and a half after the exchanges became operational, it has succeeded far better than anyone could have reasonably expected.”

Health Policy’s Future

As health policy moves into the future, it becomes increasingly prominent in the media. The Atlantic went so far as to say that health policy may be the issue that determines the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Indeed, health policy seems to be at the heart of many current public administration conversations.

The Atlantic article posited that many people treasure the benefits they receive from the ACA. However, Republicans have taken a “repeal and replace” stance on the issue, as the Washington Post said. Some republicans feel that the ACA is costing the government too much money, and they wish to come up with a new plan.

The past, present, and the possible future approach to health policy all sought or are seeking to provide health coverage to those who need it, but it seems that there will always be a debate about which approach to health policy is the best.

For more information please visit University of Southern California’s Master of Public Administration Online program.