Debating Obamacare at UCI

The ASUCI Office of Academic Affairs hosted a debate on the Affordable Care Act last Monday, Feb. 10 in Doheny Beach A of the Student Center. The debate brought many key opposing points about the reform to light.

Phuc Pham | New University

Phuc Pham | New University

Four professors were present: two professors — Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Mahtab Jafari and Biochemistry Lecturer Dr. Pavan Kadandale — supported the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare; Professor of Economics Amihai Glazer offered economic critiques on aspects of the ACA and Professor of Political Science William Schonfeld reviewed the political factors and mistakes associated with the act.

The floor was open to students to ask questions, but the debate began with questions that students had previously submitted to ASUCI via email. Fewer than 100 students attended the event, of whom only five or six students asked professors questions that evening.

“You guys have to start getting more and more interested,” Dr. Jafari said in response to the lack of student input.

“It starts with you and we each have to educate ourselves to become that way because you have to vote, you have to be involved and those of you who were here tonight, now you’re responsible to talk to other students to talk to your friends, your roommates, your classmates and really share the ideas that we’re presenting here.”

Professor Jafari and Dr. Kadandale shared most of their ideas about the ACA with the pre-medical students who attended the event as they highlighted the benefits that it brings, such as preventive medicine and health education. Jafari, who is also director of pharmaceutical studies at UC Irvine, stressed the significance of education and preventative medicine throughout the debate.

“There is really not much going on right now when it comes to prevention and with the Affordable Care Act you’re going to change that,” Jafari said. She argued that the free preventive tests and scans under Obamacare will greatly reduce unnecessary health care costs that arise when a diagnosis is made too late.

Dr. Kadandale followed Jafari and argued that the United States should provide healthcare to all its citizens.

Professor Schonfeld revealed the political factors that led to the creation of Obamacare, as well as its mistakes. He argued that the Affordable Care Act was drafted in the least bipartisan government America has had thus far, which he believes will cripple the bill’s chances for success.

According to Schonfeld, the Republican minority should have been consulted on their opinion regarding the ACA.

Professor Glazer contested the principle of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate clause, which requires everyone in the United States to purchase health insurance.

“Does medical care improve health? The answer is no,” Dr. Glazer said as he went on to reference a study conducted by the National Research Council, which shows that European governments spend less money on medical care, yet European people are healthier than us.

Dr. Jafari challenged Dr. Glazer’s assertions.

“Who do you think commits suicide? What do you think is the ideology for suicide? Depressed people. What is depression? It’s a mental health problem,” Dr. Jafari said, re-instating the need for preventative health care for young and old people alike. As it stands, students or recent graduates who are at a high risk for committing suicide might not have the right insurance, if any, to seek help from a mental health professional.

“It was interesting to hear the other professors and to get a sense of what student concerns are about the whole thing,” Dr. Kadandale said after the event.

Nikki Kathuria thanked the professors and students alike for attending and was glad that students were able to attend.

“We were definitely worried that students wouldn’t attend because we weren’t sure how much this event appealed to people, so it did require a lot of effort in terms of getting the word out to students. But we actually were very surprised with how many people showed up.”