Universal Health Care and Global Health

Dhiraj Nallapothula is a 2nd year MIMG major from the Bay Area. Dhiraj can often be found enjoying the misanthropy of Gregory House, the brilliance of the New York Times, the addiction of sports, and the idealism of cinema. In his spare time, he tries his hand at studying.


Two days ago, the majority party in Congress introduced their “solution” for the Affordable Care Act. The bill centers on replacing key provisions and perceived flaws of the ACA, which, in the eyes of GOP law makers, has been a complete failure. To them, it is a failure when 25 million Americans now have insurance. It is a failure when 16.4 million previously uninsured Americans now have coverage. It is a failure that the law contains provisions to hold health care providers accountable and for the law itself to adapt to new scientific and economic research. It is a failure that the nation’s most progressive and cost effective universal health care law has done exactly what it was supposed to do — provide universal health care. No law is without its flaws of course, but the fact that these are considered failures is not only misinformed, but also against every core American value of pursuing progress and representing democracy. But perhaps the most significant impact of the new GOP bill and potential repeal of the ACA is that it compromises this country’s position as a champion of global health.

Global health, at its core, is the initiative to provide access to a higher standard of living to individuals in a manner that transcends borders, politics, and socioeconomic inequalities. It is the manifestation of universal health care in a way that fundamentally changes how health care is delivered. So not only did the ACA give us the ability to take care of our own, it gave us a mandate and the ethos that we could finally be a model for sustainable health care for countries that so desperately need a role model. The introduction of this bill, however, is nothing but a regression for ourselves and the lives we have changed in the 7 years that the ACA has been implemented. The new bill would limit Medicaid funding to a per- enrollee basis, incur higher costs for the elderly, limit those with preexisting conditions to plans with high deductibles, defund Planned Parenthood, and likely result in a precipitous drop in the number of insured individuals. How is it possible for a bill like this to embody any of the core ideals of Global Health? How is it possible for us to have a mandate to achieve America’s health care goals abroad when we can’t provide affordable health care for our own people?

The bill fundamentally goes against everything that global health stands for, which is why the burden is now on us. The burden is on us to stay to true to our mission, from GlobeMed to any other global health organization. We owe it to ourselves to carry on the new legacy that the ACA paved for this country in global health. We owe it to those whose lives we can change from simply being good human beings. It’s on us to keep fighting the fight we always have but only a million times harder now than ever before. That shouldn’t discourage us, it should inspire us. Universal healthcare isn’t rocket science, it’s called being a good person.

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