Expert Visits Oklahoma to Discuss Future of Health Care Reform (NewsOK)

By Jaclyn Cosgrove

The efforts in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will likely subside in the coming years, replaced by conversations at a state and federal level on how to improve the much-debated federal health care law, a policy expert told a crowd of policymakers and health leaders Monday.

Lawrence Jacobs, a political science professor and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, addressed a crowd of about 100 health leaders, lawmakers and residents Monday at a lecture in Oklahoma City, laying out what trends people can expect to see in health care reform over the next few years.

“The sense of ‘Grab your pitchfork, and let’s take out the Affordable Care Act,’ that’s no longer there,” Jacobs said. “… As people get these benefits, as we move to 50 million people covered, knowledge about the program goes up, and it becomes less about Obamacare and this very abstract polarized headache called health care reform, and more about, ‘Wow, my kid’s going to get health insurance coverage after she leaves home.’”

Oklahoma Policy Institute, a state policy think tank, hosted the discussion along with the Oklahoma Scholars Strategy Network, which is part of a national effort to improve public policy and strengthen democracy through a university scholar program.

During his talk, Jacobs said most people don’t know what the Affordable Care Act does, which affects whether they support it.

A recent study from Stanford University showed that the more people learned about the Affordable Care Act, regardless of their political party, the more supportive they became regarding the federal health care law, he said.


“So for a Republican that’s quite opposed to the Affordable Care Act, as they get more knowledge, you move up towards about half supporting it,” Jacobs said. “And among Democrats, as you would expect, you move up to almost universal support, and among independents, also you move up close to 80 percent support.”

Former state Sen. Andrew Rice, executive director of the Variety Care Foundation, asked Jacobs about concerns over funding for community heath centers. Variety Care has clinics across the Oklahoma City metro area and southwestern Oklahoma that provide care to low-income Oklahomans.

Jacobs said although the public will likely see inaction in Congress, where they will see action is in funding cuts, including cuts to community health center funding.

“The Affordable Care Act and before that the stimulus money has revolutionized these community health care clinics in terms of what they can do, but the funding ends,” Jacobs said.

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