Journalist Jonathan Cohn and Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, engaged in a debate on the recent roll out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impacts on health care cost and quality at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Monday.

Both Roy and Cohn focused on the theme of compromise in the healthcare system in the event, “Obamacare and Beyond: How to Reform the U.S. Health System.”

“The truth of all public policy — liberal, conservative — is that there are tradeoffs,” Cohn said.

Roy worked as a health care policy adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. He is also currently the opinion editor at Forbes Magazine. As the voice of the other side of the debate, Cohn works as a senior editor at the New Republic and the author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis.”

The debate was often framed as a balance between health care services and high healthcare costs.

Roy said he believes health insurance is too expensive. Referring to the ACA’s mandate that every person in the United States have health insurance, he countered the idea that young people who have not purchased health insurance are “slackers.” Instead, Roy said it often does not make economic sense for young people to have insurance.

Cohn said that the ACA was a necessary compromise to help those he considered the “victims” of America’s healthcare system. He added that preceding the passage of the ACA there were 45 million uninsured Americans and millions more with inadequate coverage.

“It (the effects of the ACA) won’t be perfect … but we will be in a better place,” Cohn said.

Roy said he believes the ACA will make healthcare more expensive.

“You might think from a personal standpoint, from a public health standpoint, that all of these benefits are great,” Roy said. “But they have costs.”

The two presenters were divided on the issue of mental health coverage. Under the new laws, newly issued insurance plans are required to provide some level of compensation for mental health issues.

“I want a system where no matter what happens to you, you’ll be protected,” Cohn said. “I think that includes mental health because mental health is a huge problem in this country.”

In opposition to Cohn, Roy said mental health should not necessarily have to be covered by health insurance.

Earlier in the debate, Roy said he would like to have health insurance for incidents that cannot be prevented, but not for others. He argued that while most Americans would agree to pay for the medical expenses of a child born with Down syndrome, Americans might not want to agree to pay to cover the costs of a smoker who has developed chronic pulmonary disease.

“I might not want to have insurance that covers me from becoming a crack addict,” Roy said.

Cohn said insurance is necessary for everyone because serious health issues can occur suddenly.

“Every single person in this room is an accident, a heart attack, something catastrophic away from needing insurance,” Cohn said.

Tracy Anderson, a clinical instructor in the School of Nursing, said she brought her nursing students to the event so they will be prepared to transition to the ACA’s new policies.

The Gilbert S. Omenn and Martha Darling Health Policy Fund collaborated with the Ford School to sponsor the event. Audience members were encouraged to tweet throughout the debate with #policytalks.

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