In response to the controversial meetings held by various members of Congress this summer, on Monday, Sept. 28, the College held its own open forum meeting on health care reform.
Beyond the Shouting: A Discussion of Health Care Reform in America was a program brought to the College by the Center for the Study of Democracy, Public Policy Studies, and Democracy Studies. The forum involved three ideologically diverse panelists on the topic of health care reform, in which they discussed their thoughts on health care and then took questions from the audience full of students, faculty, and community members.
Dr. Margaret Flowers is a Congressional Fellow with Physicians for a National Health Program and discussed the benefits of a single-payer system of health care. Greg Scandlen, a founder of Consumers for Health Care Choice, discussed consumer choice health reform. The final panelist was Karen Davenport, Director of the Center for American Progress, who spoke on behalf of the current legislation being proposed and discussed in Congress.
Each panelist was given 10 minutes to discuss their stance on the reform and then took questions from the audience. Professor Todd Eberly was the moderator for this forum and wanted to make sure that this session was about “information and dialogue not about the shouting.” Eberly believed that this was a necessary forum to have because he felt that the education on reform that was provided by the government has been a loss and has not done a good job of assuaging popular fears about reform.
All of the speakers wanted to emphasize the need of health care reform. Dr. Flowers called attention to the fact “that the United States is ranked 37 in the world on health care, yet we ranked number one in the amount of spending on health care each year.” She believed in a single-payer system, which she stressed would be more cost effective than the current private system in place because it would simplify the “hugely ineffective system” administrative needs of the private system.
Greg Scandlen, an expert on health care financing, supported reform on individual choice. He said that “empowering the consumer is the way to go in health care and that carefulness in how we use money will be what lowers cost.”
Karen Davenport spoke about legislation which is currently making its way through both houses of Congress. She clarified that the purpose of the plans in Congress are to make health care affordable through tax credits and by expanding eligibility of Medicaid. She also stressed the bill’s plan on making health care reliable through insurance market reform. Ms. Davenport stated that the “cost over 10 years is the litmus test in Congress,” but that the Senate is looking at cost over 20 years to see a more overarching result of possible reforms.
All of the panelists stressed that this process of reform is going to take enormous amounts of time and effort and that we may not see any real results for some 10-15 years. Professor Eberly summed it up when speaking about the policy of reform: “We will eventually get there… but some small steps are faster than a risky leap.”