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August HOT TOPICS, The Future of Healthcare

Dean Johnson  | Published on 8/10/2017

This long, hot summer has seen neither the repeal of nor a replacement for America’s Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010 and repeatedly excoriated by Republican majorities in the U.S. Congress.

What now?

Good question – in fact, “What’s Next Now That the Health Law Repeal Has Failed?” was the subject for Wednesday’s League of Women Voters Hot Topics event.

One of the first priorities, according to Marni Stahlman, CEO of Shepherd’s Hope, a nonprofit that has provided medical care to Central Florida’s uninsured and underserved for 20 years, is to get the public to agree that health care is a fundamental right. “Florida needs to examine why [legislators] didn’t expand Medicaid. We need to look at who did and who didn’t vote for Medicaid expansion,” she added.

“People have to demand that it happen,” Florida AARP spokesman Jack McRay said of both a national health-care law and the Florida Legislature’s decision not to take expanded Medicaid funds from the federal government, one of 19 states to turn down the dollars.

McRay was probably right when he said, “We need to quit talking about repeal.”

Moderator Michael Griffin, Vice-President of Advocacy and Public Policy for Adventist Health Systems (Florida Hospital), said, “Nothing gets Congress’s attention more than screaming crowds” at town-hall meetings in their states and districts -- resulting in some Republicans taking second looks at health-care laws.

Brian Brown, director of AvMed Health Plans Insurance, reminded us that the America health-care system is, to quote a prominent Washington leader, “complicated.”

Indeed, it is. There were enough facts, figures and solutions put forward at Hot Topics to make your head explode.

The three panelists and moderator Griffin came up with several issues that must be considered in future bills or in repairing the ACA: stabilizing the insurance market, lowering prices for drugs (especially for senior citizens), figuring out how to help both the chronically and mentally ill (Florida ranks 50th among the states in mental-health spending), looking at such issues as affordable housing and food security (contributing factors to illness among the poor), discussing the benefits of health care for millennials.

See, it’s complicated. I suggest you look at the video posted on the LWV Web site to digest more of the ideas and observations that came out of Wednesday’s session. League members are always encouraged to get involved, and the video will give us much more to think about.