Health care now constitutes almost 15% of the U.S. economy. The broad range of issues involving health care and health care delivery are at the center of national and local policy debates: Disparities in access and outcomes for vulnerable populations; right to control decisions about treatment and about dying; medical malpractice; the adequacy of the evidence base underlying medical decisions; the pharmaceutical industry and its role in health care and politics; the impact of an aging population; and coping with accelerating health cost.
This course is an introduction for undergraduate students to the major policy issues affecting health care and examines the role of government in the health care system. An important focus of the course is an assessment of the role of policy analysis in the formation and implementation of national and local health policy. Because much of government health policy relates to or is implemented through payment systems, several sessions involve some discussion of the policy implications of how government pays for care. The role of the legal system with respect to adverse medical outcomes, economic rights, and individual rights is also discussed. Proposals for health policy reform at the national and local level are examined throughout the course, with an emphasis on Medicare and Medicaid reforms currently being implemented or considered.