UCLA Luskin Postcard: Health Care Reform Salon with Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson, an expert in health care policy and a longtime watcher of efforts to reform medical insurance in the U.S., spoke to an exclusive group of UCLA Luskin friends at a Dean’s Associates Salon a few weeks after the Affordable Care Act’s coverage began to become active.

UCLA Luskin student writer Max Wynn sent this postcard from the evening.

On January 15th friends of UCLA Luskin gathered at Michael and Natalie Mahdesian’s Studio City home for the eleventh Dean’s Associates Salon.

The highlight of the evening was a discussion of the Affordable Care Act led by Mark A. Peterson, UCLA Luskin professor of public policy, political science and law. Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, a visiting professor of Public Policy, provided closing remarks and perspective on the health care reform experience of his own state.

In his opening remarks, Mahdesian, a member of UCLA Luskin’s Board of Advisors, stated that the School trains leaders to come up with solutions to the problems and needs of our society. Health care is a universal need but health care reform is a complex issue, and the clarity of Peterson’s analysis reinforced Mahdesian’s reasoning for calling UCLA Luskin “one of the best [public affairs programs] on the west coast — if not the nation.”

The collected guests filled the Mahdesian’s spacious living room, and while some sat up right in their seats and others relaxed on couches, they all listened intently as Peterson spoke.

He began by explaining why the Affordable Care Act is such a complex piece of legislation, before tracing the fraught history of health care reform in this country up to the problems with the Act’s rollout last fall. However, the majority of his presentation was devoted to what he called “the implementation wars.”

Peterson characterized the national debate over Obamacare as a “civil war within our political ranks,” explaining that the vitriol of the debate was driven by an increasingly polarized Congress and the racial intolerance of a powerful minority within the conservative electorate.

This divisive rhetoric of the health care debate was a recurring theme throughout the night, but Peterson’s in-depth, factual analysis of Obamacare was a steady hand on the subject.

Peterson’s remarks were followed by a lengthy question and answer session, and the intimate setting fostered a lively discussion between Peterson and the attendees. Questions came from all corners of the room and the constructive nature of the discussion stood in stark relief to the divisiveness of the subject matter.

As the night wound down Dukakis delivered his closing remarks, emphasizing that, “Obamacare works…[and] it’s working in my state.”

As guests milled about afterwards the general consensus was that the night’s discussion had provided a level of context that is much needed, but rarely found, in the discourse surrounding health care reform.

If you would like to learn more about UCLA Luksin’s Dean’s Associates program, click here.

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