Lisa Grabert talks on the importance of engaging lawmakers. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

In less than two months, 2019 will be over and it will officially be 2020. In other words, the 2020 presidential election will soon be here. One topic on everyone’s mind is healthcare. Earlier this week, the College of Nursing at Marquette University held a panel titled “Looking to 2020: Healthcare and Politics.”

It explored the overlap between politics and health care policy and how it affects Wisconsin residents.

“The goal is to take the overarching topic of health care and break it down to provide a better understanding of what goes into political decision-making and legislation,” said Dr. Janet Krejci, dean of the College of Nursing, in the press release.

The event featured three speakers, all experts in their fields relating to healthcare who discussed how Milwaukeeans can take a more active role in the conversation.

Lisa Grabert is a visiting professor of research at the College of Nursing. She is an expert on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance. Grabert explained that the goal of the event was to explore the intersection of healthcare and political action.

The panelists discussed how and where healthcare and politics overlap. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

In 2017, $3.5 trillion was spent on healthcare and 66 percent of it was paid for by the government. It’s a percentage that is growing, she said. Yet, despite the high cost, the U.S. ranks 37th among other countries and has a below average lifespan.

Grabert said that healthcare policy is complicated. Through her work, Grabert has helped create and research policies, many of them are bipartisan. She’s learned that the goal isn’t necessarily to get both sides to agree 100 percent but rather to aim for a general consensus.

“If you cannot sell your policy to both parties then you have nothing to sell,” she said.

While Grabert’s work has her working directly with legislators, she said that a lot of people question how they can make a difference. Her advice is to engage lawmakers. Know who they are, call them and tag them on social media.

“Whether you support or oppose them, they want to have a conversation,” she said.

Peggy Troy, the president and CEO of Children’s Wisconsin, discussed children in healthcare.

When it comes to policy, children are often overlooked, she said. The problem is that most healthcare is designed based off an adult model, Troy said.

Currently, about 50 percent of children receive healthcare funding through Medicaid, which is a state program that is federally funded, but children only make up 20 percent of spending.

“We want kids in Wisconsin to be healthiest in the nation,” she said, but right now that’s not the case especially for children living in the central city.

In its efforts to make this goal a reality, Children’s Wisconsin has put several measures in place such as car seats, concussion protocol, AED’s in schools, a smoking/vaping ban and more resources for mental health.

Dr. Charles Franklin is a professor and director of the Marquette Law School Poll. He said a big topic is the Affordable Care Act. When it first came out, people viewed it as unfavorable, but now things have changed, and many people want it to remain and be improved.

In preparation for the 2020 DNC in Milwaukee, all three advised how to approach lawmakers and candidates. Grabert said to know a lawmaker’s history to tailor the message better and more succinctly. Troy said to be well informed on both sides. Franklin said to not underestimate the power of a good anecdote.