Local Reaction to Health Care Law Debate

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

A University of Wisconsin Stevens Point political science professor is taking advantage of the national dialogue on health care to teach his students about health policy.

The Affordable Health Care Act not only affects college students, but every American.

It's taken decades to pass health care reform in this country because it's a highly politicized issue.

"I think it deals with a lot of things including and especially the role of government," professor Ed Miller said during his Health Policy course Wednesday.

Miller says the question boils down to how do you fix health care and who should fix it.

"Even if a state can do this such as Massachusetts did with a very similar act, can the federal government do this under the Constitution," he said.

As it stands, some measures of the Affordable Health Care Law are already in effect, like keeping young people on their parents' health plans until age 26 and ensuring children with preexisting medical conditions can get coverage.

But it's the mandates that won't take effect until 2014 that are under contention, including requiring all Americans have health insurance.

"The United States has been the only industrialized country in the world not to have universal health care and this legislation will change that to a certain degree if the court doesn't screw it up," said former U.S. Congressman Dave Obey.

Obey, a proponent of universal health care, says if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, they could throw out the entire law.

He fears that would throw away decades of work ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says health care should be left to the state to decide, and not the federal government. Walker says the best way to do that is to strike down the entire law.

"We don't want government imposing new standards and make it harder to balance our budget," he said. "Most importantly, something that takes away the rights of our citizens."

The Supreme Court could strike down parts of the law, the entire law, or uphold it. They're expected to take an initial, private vote Friday and decide who will write a majority opinion. They likely won't make any final decisions until June.

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