Economics department seminar will explore ‘Obamacare’

On Friday, October 11, Portland State associate professor of economics Rajiv Sharma will begin a presentation titled “What Will ‘Obamacare’ Mean? What Will and Won’t Change?” at 3PM, in Room 53 of Cramer Hall.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, intends to make healthcare more affordable by enacting universal and mandatory health insurance coverage.

The ACA will be rolled-out in incremental “provisions” until 2020, with the next slated to occur on October 1 of this year, when the open enrollment provision will allow those without health insurance to shop for coverage in new “health insurance marketplaces,” or the insurance “exchange.” 

Professor Sharma will also explore two major provisions being introduced on January 1 of 2014—a new rule prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against users with preexisting conditions, and the requirement for eligible individuals to have insurance.

Neal Wallace, a professor of public administration at PSU, believes that universal coverage in the U.S. is a necessary step towards keeping the population healthy. “In the order of operations,” he said, “the first thing is insuring everybody.”

“Oregon has been a leader in thinking about how to improve public health and reduce costs,” Wallace said, adding that pressure to meet the Medicaid expansion while reducing health care costs has prompted, “thinking about health more broadly,” and, as Wallace suggested, “healthcare beyond just getting people covered.”

“Good ideas have been sprouting up forever but they don’t stick if there is no structure to support them,” he said. New markets for promoting population health and preventative services might interest PSU students interested in community health and entrepreneurship.

Professor Sharma’s talk is free for PSU students and faculty with ID. Other admission is $45. For more information, visit