Theme Panel: Health Policy and Democratic Discontent

Health Policy and Democratic Discontent: The ACA in Comparative Perspective

In the rich industrialized democracies, health policy has historically generated both political inclusion and exclusion. Programs for collective insurance against the risk of illness – from the British National Health Service to the French social insurance system to Medicare in the US — are rightly considered the jewels in the crowns of many welfare states. At the same time, widening gaps in life expectancy and well-being across the social gradient and across racial and ethnic groups in many countries signal that both medical care and other social goods conducive to health are lacking for large segments of the population. This roundtable draws together leading experts on health policy in the US with a moderator whose expertise is on European health systems to examine in a comparative light how democratic discontents — including socioeconomic inequality, lack of political and policy responsiveness, the privatization of the public sphere and discomfort with diversity — are reflected in the contemporary politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

Our participants are Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a leading commentator on American health politics at the national level (his writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Nation, the New York Times, the New Republic, and other popular venues as well as in the academic press); Sarah Gollust, Associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has published extensively on the intersection of public opinion, the media, and health policy in the US; and Jamila Michener, Assistant professor in the department of Government at Cornell, an expert on the politics of Medicaid who examines the conditions under which economically and racially disadvantaged groups engage in the political process. Julia Lynch, Associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on the politics of health inequalities in comparative perspective, will moderate the roundtable.

Julia Lynch, University of Pennsylvania (Chair)
Harold Pollack, University of Chicago (Presenter)
Sarah E. Gollust, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Presenter)
Jamila D. Michener, Cornell University (Presenter)