SUNY Downstate to host discussion on healthcare act

September 19, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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`Broccoli, Medicaid and mandates’

The John Conley Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn will present a lecture on the United States Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, Sept. 20, at 4 p.m.

Guest speaker David Orentlicher, MD, JD, will talk on “Broccoli, Medicaid, and Mandates: Implications of the Affordable Care Act,” a reference to the key objections raised by critics of the Act.

If the federal government can require people to buy insurance because it would be good for their health, then, it is said, the government can require people to buy all sorts of things that are good for their health – like broccoli.

Similarly, if the federal government can force states to spend billions of Medicaid dollars to address the health care needs of their residents, it can force states to spend billions of dollars on other social programs.

According to Dr. Orentlicher, the court’s 5-4 vote was a strong counter to these arguments.

“Affordable Care Act critics greatly exaggerated the implications of the act for federal power,” he says. “Allowing the act to largely go forward preserves the ability of Congress to regulate on behalf of the public welfare while presenting no new threats to individual liberty or state autonomy.”

But what about the court’s holding on the Medicaid expansion portion of the act?  Didn’t the justices recognize that Congress was trying to deny states their rightful authority over healthcare policy?

“Even though the Court ruled that the Medicaid expansion was optional, it will be surprising if any states actually refuse to participate,” says Dr. Orentlicher. “Rather than putting ‘a gun to the head’ of the states, Congress made an offer that’s too good to refuse.”

As the presidential campaign moves into full swing, the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and healthcare law are certain to be center stage: Dr. Orentlicher’s lecture promises a lively framing of the issues.

Dr. Orentlicher, a frequent commentator on health law for The New York Times, CNN and other media, is the Samuel R. Rosen professor and co-director of the William S. and Christine S. Hall Center for Law and Health at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

This event is co-sponsored by the Brooklyn Free Clinic and Physicians for a National Health Program at Downstate. The presentation will take place in Lecture Hall 1–A, Health Science Education Building, 395 Lenox Rd.

For more information, call (718) 270-3780. 

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