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Students explore complexity of the Obamacare debate

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Students explore complexity of the Obamacare debate
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

As the national debate on health care policy reaches fever pitch, a course in Oakland University’s Department of Political Science is focused on dissecting the issues and identifying solutions to contemporary health care quandaries. Titled “Public Policy and Healthcare,” the course traces the evolution of health care policy in the U.S. with a focus on major trends and issues, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “ObamaCare.”

“Students, like many people in the U.S., are not only interested in what is going on with the Affordable Care Act in general, but are directly experiencing the early phases of its implementation,” said course instructor Dr. Julie Walters, an associate professor of public administration.

“Understanding how the law was passed, its key components, timing, legal issues – including U.S. Supreme Court involvement – are all a part of the conversation.”

Along with offering relevant insights into current events, the course teaches students about the fundamentals of policymaking from a “360 degree perspective.” This involves identifying and examining the many factors surrounding a policy issue, such as understanding the nature of the problem, identifying the stakeholders and analyzing potential solutions.

“The skeletal structure underlying the course involves helping the students learn how to understand the many facets of policymaking in health care so that they will have the tools to pull themselves above the often chaotic political world and make sense of the issues,” Dr. Walters said.

In addition, students examine the process of implementing a policy and determining its success or failure.

“When trying to understand why a policy succeeded or failed, we look at funding issues, a change in political support, a legal challenge, as well as other factors,” Dr. Walters explained.

To demonstrate a grasp of the material, students present detailed policy analysis of health care issues to the class. Among the topics in play are vaccination policy, health care access for immigrants and a comparative study of the concept of universal health care across jurisdictions.

OU student Jerry Boji highly recommends the course, both for its content and timeliness.

“With health care always an important issue in the media, I felt it was very suitable that I experience the class,” said Boji, who is also taking a media in politics course this semester.

“Both courses have really opened my eyes to a lot. Learning the ins and outs about President Obama's healthcare plan has been my most vital learning experience of the semester. I have always been interested, and now that the plan will finally be in effect, this class has been great timing.”

To learn more about programs in OU’s Department of Political Science, visit the website at

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