PubPol 475

PubPol 475.010 Topics: The History and Politics of Health Care Reform

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Winter 2024
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This class will focus on answering the question of what it takes to pass a major piece of legislation -- and what that answer says about the structure of American government and nature of U.S. politics. Its case study will be the century-long effort to create a universal health care system, with a heavy focus on enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The course will cover the economics of health care and its effects on innovation, quality and access, with an emphasis on people with serious medical needs as well as lower-income populations and traditionally marginalized communities. The class will review the long history of attempts to pass major health care legislation, from embryonic attempts at 'compulsory' health care in the Progressive Era up through the passage of prescription drug pricing reforms in 2022. But the broad focus will remain on exploring how factors like the institutional architecture of American government, the power of interest groups, the complexities of public opinion and judgment of individual leaders shape the legislative agenda, specific proposals and the outcomes of debate -- not just for health care, but for all issues.  

This class is now open to undergraduates as well as graduates. 

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