Every summer, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., goes door to door and asks the citizens of Connecticut what the government can do for them. And, the senator says, residents consistently bring up the same issue: health care.

“They’re talking to me about the feeling that they are losing control over this system,” Murphy said. “They’re paying more, and they don’t feel like they’re getting much more.”

Murphy discussed the issue in front of students, professors and guests at the Yale School of Public Health on Monday morning in a guest lecture that formed part of the school’s Health Policy Leadership Seminar. The hourlong talk attracted more than 100 people from the New Haven community, with many attendees forced to stand in the packed lecture hall.

Murphy’s speech — titled “Pressing Healthcare Issues Facing our State and Nation” — touched on the documented successes of the Affordable Care Act, the security of the ACA in the age of President Donald Trump and the Connecticut public’s reactions to these developments in recent years. His talk lasted 20 minutes and was followed by a Q&A panel hosted by Shelley Geballe LAW ’76 SPH ’95.

“I came here to have a conversation with current and future medical providers and public health professionals to discuss what’s at stake for our health care system and where we need to go,” Murphy wrote in a statement to the News. “When we’re talking about making changes to one-sixth of the U.S. economy, you have to listen to everybody to get things done. I’m proud Yale School of Public Health is producing a new generation of people interested in advocating for a system that works for everyone.”

Murphy, who sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said in his talk that the ACA has alleviated poverty and argued that moving toward a single-payer health care system would be a sustainable path forward.

Murphy also discussed the impact of federal health care legislation on Connecticut citizens, emphasizing his constituents’ fears about the ACA’s current instability.

“The threats right now to the 200,000 people in Connecticut who have health care because of the Affordable Care Act, all the folks who were so fearful that their protections for preexisting conditions are going to be taken away — those rights are so significant that that’s where our focus has to be,” Murphy said.

In addition to addressing the topic of health care, the senator touched on a number of issues related to Connecticut’s public school system. He described income disparity as one of the primary reasons the state requires education reform, particularly in its urban centers.

“People live in the suburbs and get all the benefits of the cities, but don’t have to, in a meaningful way, engage in all of the challenges that come with educating very poor kids that have traumas that come with living in very poor neighborhoods,” Murphy said.

Joy Chen SPH ’20, who attended Murphy’s lecture, said that the event highlighted just how difficult it is to navigate the health care debate.

“The main takeaway from this talk is that health care is really convoluted and that there is no one solution to solving health care,” Chen said.

Murphy, a national advocate for gun reform, started his political career in 1999 as a member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives. He would later graduate from the University of Connecticut Law School while still serving in the State House. Geballe said that she hoped her students would appreciate his long-standing record of public service.

“[Murphy] started running for political office when he was just a few years older than the [students] in this room,” Geballe said. “And he has made a big difference. And I think there is a lot of energy in Yale College and the graduate schools to try to make a difference, and he is a role model for that.”

Murphy is running for re-election this fall in the upcoming midterm elections.

Nick Tabio | nick.tabio@yale.edu

Allen Siegler | allen.siegler@yale.edu