Aspen Ideas Festival: Spotlight on health

Judy Woodruff
Journalist Judy Woodruff talks with young people during the making of her PBS documentary "Generation Next."
Photo Courtesy of PBS

The host of the PBS Newshour Judy Woodruff interviewed speakers on the opening day of the Aspen Ideas Festival's "Spotlight on Health," discussing the proposals from Congress and the Trump administration to replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act.

Lanhee Chen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and director of Domestic Policy Studies at Stanford University, and a presidentially appointed member of the Social Security Advisory Board.

Chen served as policy director for Mitt Romney's 2012 bid for the presidency and was a senior appointee at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department during the George W. Bush administration.

Andy Slavitt is senior adviser for the Bipartisan Policy Center, former acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Essentially, if you read through the bill and you look at the math, for most people they'll have to pay more and they'll get less in terms of benefits, and pay higher deductibles," Slavitt said of the new health bill.

The language in the bill was rushed and put together in secret, Slavitt added.

While Chen agreed the bill wasn't put together under ideal circumstances, he believes it has several advantages over Obamacare.

"It gives states actually much fuller flexibility to do a variety of, indeed, very dramatic things," Chen said. Allowing states to experiment with how they handle health care is a step in the right direction for finding out what works best across the country.

He added that cuts to Medicaid in the bill have been exaggerated, with a great deal of the regulations around it going untouched.

Still, many people currently covered by Medicaid would lose that coverage should the bill pass. "This is not a bill that is going to add coverage to people," Slavitt said. "And the Medicaid program costs less that commercial insurance, costs far less than Medicare, covers 70 percent of the costs of people living with disabilities, living in nursing homes, and half of the people are kids."

While the program could be made more efficient, the way to do that isn't to cut millions of dollars from it, Slavitt said.

To listen to the program, click the audio player above.

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