Sheryl McCarthy, lecturer of journalism at Queens College, moderated a panel discussing the Affordable Care Act during an early morning breakfast forum at the Student Union ballroom on Friday, Nov. 17.
The panel consisted of three professionals in the healthcare industry, along with a state senator. Among them was Lisa David, the President and CEO of Public Health Solutions, Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of EmblemHealth, Kate Spaziani, Vice President of External Affairs for the New York-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network and Senator Gustavo Rivera, who represents the 33rd Senate District in the Bronx.
Rivera was outspoken about the issue at hand, stating that he couldn’t believe there are conversations in politics right now about cutting money because “we have to save money.” Rivera went on, asking the audience, “What do you think, that people should be dying in the streets? If you do, then I have nothing to say to you.”
Jasmine Olivera, a junior majoring in urban studies at Queens College and a research assistant at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment, attended the event. Olivera recalled the optimism the panel displayed regarding the future of healthcare, and the hope that exists in keeping the ACA. “I would encourage students to come to the next event because we think that politicians are separate from society, but you can tell that they care about the people,” Olivera said.
Under the Trump administration, the ACA has been under scrutiny, with President Trump vowing to repeal and replace it. Many citizens and healthcare professionals are worried about how this change, if it takes effect, will affect them.
The ACA has three primary goals, which are to make affordable health insurance available to more people, to expand the Medicaid program to cover all adults with income below the federal poverty level, and to support innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the costs of healthcare. The ACA was passed under the Obama administration.
In the panel many issues about the ACA and its repeal were discussed, including questions regarding how insurance companies feel about universal single-payer system, which Ms. David is in favor of, but worries about New York due to the underfunding of many businesses.
The panel provided insight into the different areas of healthcare and politics that the repeal could affect. Ultimately the panelists shared similar feelings on the issue. They are aware the ACA repeal could happen, but they are optimistic and hope Republicans won’t dissolve it because so many Americans count on it.
Beatriz Vacacela, a senior majoring in Political Science, attended Friday’s panel because of her interest in the ACA, specifically what plans the future holds for those who have preexisting conditions. “It was good to know that everyone on the panel agreed that healthcare should be something that everyone has a right too,” Vacacela said.
The moderator, Sheryl McCarthy, hopes the students that attended the event are able to understand the matter better and learn more about it. “I think students can be better citizens by being more aware of what is going on in our country,” McCarthy said.