Conferences & Symposia

It Depends What State You’re In: Policies and Politics of the US Health Care System

It Depends What State You’re In: Policies and Politics of the US Health Care System

Health care and political systems are deeply intertwined, with implications for the quality and equality of access to health care.

This symposium will explore the political dynamics of health care laws and the way they affect people not only as patients but also as citizens. Health professionals, policy and public health experts, economists, sociologists, and political scientists will draw on comparative politics and policies of the US states—alone and as part of a federalist system—and on international perspectives to explore the relationships between citizens and their health care.

We will feature two panels:

  • on the functions and dysfunctions of the Affordable Care Act and federal proposals to amend or replace it, and
  • on alternative health insurance systems (public option, single-payer, or more libertarian alternatives) at the US state level and internationally.

Free and open to the public.

Video of the symposium will be available online approximately 4 weeks after the event.


1 p.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Lizabeth Cohen, Dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Department of History, Harvard University

Daniel Carpenter, Director of the Social Sciences Program, Radcliffe Institute, and Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

1:15 p.m.

Functions and Dysfunctions of the Affordable Care Act

Moderator: Benjamin Sommers, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Economics, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

Andrea Louise Campbell RI '13, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Kate Walsh, President and CEO of Boston Medical Center

2:45 p.m.


3:15 p.m.

Alternative Models at the State and Federal Levels

Moderator: Zirui Song, Assistant Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

Michelle M. Doty, Vice President, Survey Research and Evaluation, The Commonwealth Fund

William Hsiao, K.T. Li Research Professor of Economics, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Michael Lighty, Director of Public Policy, California Nurses Association/National Nurses United

4:45 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Janet Rich-Edwards, Codirector of the Science Program, Radcliffe Institute; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; and Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

5 p.m.