SCOTUS Talks to Students About Healthcare, Obamacare

Photo by Catherine Armstrong

A discussion on health care subsidies was held in the Adler Center on Tuesday with special guest Dr. Kathleen Burke, a registered nurse and assistant dean in charge of nursing at Ramapo.  

This discussion was inspired by the Supreme Court of the United States ruling on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“It’s important to look at health care before the act” said Burke. ”Most people assume things are the same across the United States.”

This law allows the federal government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help make health care accessible and affordable. Thursday’s ruling was a 6-3 decision, ensuring that the act will probably stay around after the president is out of office. This is the second time the court has ruled on this law.

“People outside of health care don’t realize how positive the ACA [Affordable Care Act] is,” Burke said. The ACA instigated value added performance to make sure hospitals are not just doing their jobs, but performing optimally.

Burke went on to explain that with the involvement of the ACA you can now go to and see what hospital you should go to. Hospitals are now scrambling to get positive reviews so that they may be reimbursed by the government. One of the things they are doing is creating "Accountable Care Organizations," which are different from the ACA. The Leapfrog Group organized a list of hospitals from the most reliable to the least. The more reliable a hospital, and the higher outcome rate it has, the higher reimbursement it will get.

“When I was on the board of a hospital, 90 percent of our planning involved reimbursement,” Burke said.

Burke continued to talk about how expensive hospital care is.

"Hip replacements in California can cost between $13,000 and $135,000, but the hospitals with the best outcome cost between $27,000 and $33,000,” she said.

Hospitals are also looking more at post and pre-care, according to Burke.

“Every patient that comes to my hospital with heart problems is at risk of coming back. What we started doing is giving those patients iPads and the doctors would video chat with their patients to do checkups,” Burke said.

This method ultimately would become much cheaper for the hospitals as their patients would come back less, making the hospital have a high outcome rate, according to Burke. The group next talked about how expensive health care is.

“Health care is the largest reason for bankruptcy in the United States,” Burke said. “My dog has high blood pressure and it costs $200 a month for his medication. If I had to take those pills it would cost me $6 due to my co-pay plan.”

She continued to share her experiences with the group. Before ending the discussion, Burke talked about how safe hospitals really are.

“Hospitals are not safe … If you are in the hospital for more than three days, your chances of contracting a virus quadruple,” she said, advising students to be aware of their own personal health care situations.