Obamacare debate: Both sides agree on goal, not method

Last week, I participated in a debate about Obamacare hosted by the Project for Deeper Understanding held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Park City. Liana Teteberg, physician assistant, and Judi Hilman, executive director of Utah Health Policy Project, argued in favor of the federal health care law while Dr. E.J. Raven, chiropractor, and I argued against it. You can watch the debate here:


The debate was lively and to the point while also civil. Trying to come to a “deeper understanding” of others’ views on any important issue is a worthy and vital goal.

As for the arguments in the debate, I came away with two overriding messages: 

  1. We all have the same goal. Whether we support Obamacare or not, we would all like to see every American have access to quality, affordable health care. This fact is essential to remember in debates about health care. Despite this, we have different views on what steps will actually lead to this common goal, which brings me to message No. 2.
  2. What role government should play is the key difference in the health care debate. Those who support Obamacare seem to have an inherent trust in government, that government is capable of and necessary for solving our health care problems. They might even advocate for government running the entire health care system. They also believe states are less than capable of crafting sound health care policy on their own and, therefore, the federal government needs to intervene and can do better. In contrast, those against Obamacare believe that if government would get out of the way, then individuals, nonprofits and businesses in the private sector could solve most of our health care problems today. Of course, even with a true free market system of health care some people still wouldn’t be able to afford the care they need, which is why Sutherland has proposed an “authentic charity care” initiative for the state. They also believe that any necessary government involvement should come from the most local level of government possible, which means rare federal intervention, if any.

What do you think? What role should government play in health care?