Peterson on Regulating Dialysis Clinics

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to CalMatters about what’s at stake with Proposition 23, which would require dialysis centers to have at least one licensed physician on site during operating hours as well as requiring clinics to report dialysis-related infection data to the state and obtain state permission before closing a site or reducing services. Many Californians will vote on Proposition 23 despite having little or no experience with kidney failure or dialysis treatment. “It’s a highly technical issue in a realm that gets into … very specific clinical concerns about the nature of care,” Peterson said. “That is not something that any of us in the general public are trained in.” Opponents of Prop. 23 say the driving force behind the initiative is not patient care but rather a labor union’s desire to organize dialysis workers. Peterson suggested that regulating dialysis clinics might be better addressed through active deliberation in the state Legislature.

Peterson on Campaigns Reshaped by COVID-19

The Los Angeles Times spoke to Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson for a story about new strategies local candidates are using to get out the vote during a time of pandemic. Many candidates have replaced door-knocking and big rallies with virtual town halls and car caravans with signs and honking. Instead of traditional campaign stops, some have hosted community service projects, such as handing out food, diapers and masks emblazoned with the candidate’s name. Peterson said that it’s unclear how the ongoing pressures of the pandemic will shape decisions about local candidates, including whether voters will hold incumbent politicians accountable for L.A.’s handling of the COVID-19 threat. He also noted that the campaign timetable has been affected by the push toward early voting due to postal delays. People “may vote quite early, before you’ve even had a chance to reach them,” Peterson said.


Peterson on Due Diligence in Seating a Supreme Court Justice

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to Elite Daily about the political battle over filling the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Peterson said there is no “election year rule” that would prohibit the confirmation of a high court justice in the heat of a presidential election. What’s most concerning, he said, is straying from norms that have developed over the years. These include thorough background checks of possible candidates and Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that allow ample time for review of a nominee’s academic articles, speeches, written opinions, and other materials that shed light on judicial and policy positions. The entire process, including a floor debate followed by a vote, has historically taken an average of 70 days but could be accelerated by the Republican-led Senate and “there is nothing the Democrats or anyone in opposition can do to stop that from happening,” Peterson said.

Peterson on Strengths, Weaknesses of the Affordable Care Act

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson was featured in a virtual interview for the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law about his article “The ACA a Decade In: Resilience, Impact, and Vulnerabilities.” Peterson’s article highlighted the strengths and vulnerabilities of the Affordable Care Act 10 years after its enactment. In the interview, he pointed to the polarized political environment and the complexity of the bill as sources of weakness. Although the ACA started off as a Republican idea, he explained, stark partisanship prohibited modern Republicans from supporting it in the Senate. Peterson also mentioned that although almost everything in the bill was extremely popular, the public didn’t understand what was in it. “The strategy of building a health care reform plan not by replacing anything but by building on the existing structures resulted in an enormously complicated bill,” he said. “Most people did not know to what extent they were going to be affected by it.”

Peterson Evaluates Health of Decade-Old ACA

The state of the 10-year-old Affordable Care Act is the subject of a new article by Public Policy Professor Mark A. Peterson in a special two-issue publication of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. The advance publication of Peterson’s study, “The ACA a Decade In: Resilience, Impact, and Vulnerabilities,” is included in the first issue of the Duke University Press journal. Peterson, former editor of the journal, writes that in the decade since its enactment, the political health of the ACA — popularly known as Obamacare — has looked precarious. “It decidedly lacked the popular acclaim of the sort that arose to undergird programs like Social Security and Medicare,” Peterson says, but he adds that it has remained “viable and consequential despite Republican efforts to end it.” He also points out that, while the impact on insurance coverage has been substantial, it remains distant from universal coverage. “The ACA has revealed perhaps surprising resilience, put insurance cards into the hands of millions previously outside the system, and even contributed to some degree of reduced financial burdens,” Peterson argues. “At the same time, all of these gains have been incomplete, remain vulnerable and are threatened by underlying forces in the political economy.” Assessing the strengths and vulnerabilities of the act in its first 10 years, Peterson cautions that a path to a more secure future for either the ACA — or a more ambitious successor — is far from clear.


Peterson Weighs In on Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ Plan

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson was cited in a New York Times article discussing the prospects for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal. Even if elected president, Sanders would probably not have sufficient support in Congress to achieve universal health coverage, the article noted. In the past 70 years, no legislation to advance universal health care has succeeded without Democratic control of all three branches of government and a supermajority in the Senate, which Sanders would be unlikely to have. Peterson pointed out that even if the rules were changed to require a simple majority to pass the legislation, “there is not any guarantee that the 51st Democrat would be willing to support Medicare for All or anything close to it.” Many Democrats in the House and Senate oppose Medicare for All, advocating instead for improving the Affordable Care Act or pursuing a new government-run “public option” that would compete with private insurance.

Super Tuesday, Luskin-Style

As Super Tuesday drew to a close after 72 hours of campaign twists and turns, Public Policy students and faculty flocked to a watch party at the Luskin School for pizza and political talk. The contest for the Democratic presidential nomination as a two-man race came into focus as returns came in from across the country. In addition to weighing the merits of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, students talked about state and local races and the new voting centers rolled out by Los Angeles County for the March 3 primary. Many in the room wore “I Voted” stickers after casting their ballots at Ackerman Union. The crowd also included half a dozen international students who were fascinated by the political process unfolding before them. Professors Martin Gilens and Mark Peterson provided context and commentary as hosts of the event. They were joined by Associate Professor Wesley Yin and Visiting Professor Michael Dukakis, the former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic nominee. Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, shared their own unique perspectives with students at the watch party.

View more photos on Flickr.


Super Tuesday Watch Party

U.S. Senate Is Stumbling Block for Universal Health Care, Peterson Says

Professor of Public Policy Mark Peterson was featured in a Health Affairs article discussing the feasibility of “Medicare for All” in the United States. Healthcare coverage has been a frequent topic of debate in the 2020 presidential campaign. The article takes a closer look at six significant efforts to advance universal health care since 1950 and finds that the only serious efforts to advance coverage have occurred during periods of unified Democratic control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, known as the Trifecta. “To explain in brief the problematic politics of [health] reform in the U.S., just enunciate four simple words: the United States Senate,” Peterson said. “It is likely to remain the biggest stumbling block in the years ahead.” While hopes for a Democratic supermajority in 2021 are low, the article points to alternative pathways to universal coverage that are less extreme than “Medicare for All.”

Peterson on Democrats Running on Rising Drug Costs

The New York Times spoke to Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson for a story about House Democrats’ focus on rising prescription drug costs in their reelection campaigns. Democrats, particularly those in districts that flipped from red to blue in the 2018 midterm elections, are betting heavily that they have solidified an image as protectors of affordable health care, the story noted. “The Republican efforts at ‘repeal and replace’ ironically highlighted the protections in the [Affordable Care Act] that would be lost and generated more public support for the law than at any time since its passage,” Peterson said. “Now more attention has turned to the other live issue that remains, that has largely always been present and that the A.C.A. has done little to forestall, and in some cases is perceived to have made even worse: out-of-pocket healthcare costs for individuals and families.”

Keeping a Civil Tongue Around the Holiday Table