The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted its first roundtable discussion of the year on Wednesday. The event featured legislators-in-residence, former State Senator Tony Strickland and former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, in a discussion about the recent implementation of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
Strickland, a Republican, and Portantino, a Democrat, both agreed that the recent introduction of the online health exchanges was flawed. The government website has suffered from technical issues preventing Americans from being able to purchase health care online.
Strickland said that he believes the problems with the healthcare act went beyond the problems with the website.
“When you listen to what it was in theory and what it was sold as, it sounded like a fantastic plan. I always thought it wouldn’t work. I also don’t think it’s an Internet issue or a computer issue — it’s not,” Strickland said. “I think, fundamentally, some of this is flawed.”
Strickland also cited the statistic that 85 percent of the population was either satisfied with or liked their health care plan before Obamacare.
Portantino, however, affirmed his support for the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m a cheerleader for our country, I’m a cheerleader for our state. I’m a cheerleader for your future,” he said. “I want things to work. And a computer problem can be fixed. Now there’s no excuse that they couldn’t get that right.”
Both men also noted that they supported bipartisanship on both the state and national levels. Strickland, who is running for U.S. Congress next year, also conceded that Republicans did not do enough to improve health care legislation.
“Republicans didn’t do a good job at saying what the alternative was,” Strickland said.
The discussion also included a brief overview of topics such as the individual mandate, which requires people to purchase health care. Many students believed it was both interesting and informative.
“I’m glad that they’re here to enlighten us and give us that political aspect of it,” said Tara Campbell, a junior majoring in political science and broadcast and digital journalism. “I think health care is going to be something that is deliberated throughout next year, and we’re going to see even more of it.”
Others were impressed by the amiable tone of the discussion, despite the fact that the speakers were from different political parties.
“I really enjoyed how nonpartisan they were. They offered thoughtful and comprehensive opinions that didn’t just toe the party line,” said Brandon Chung, a sophomore majoring in political science.
Many students also said they enjoyed the roundtable setting because it made them feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in discussion.
“I liked the fact that it was very receptive to all opinions and there wasn’t any heated debate,” said Fernando Delgado, a senior majoring in international relations. “It was overall very informative.”
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