The controversial issue of the current health care system in the United States was debated by Provost of the University Charles Phelps and Professor and Chair of the Department of History Theodore Brown on April 6 in the Welles-Brown Room of the Rush Rhees Library. Both Brown and Phelps are also professors of Community and Preventive Medicine. The topic of the debate, “Resolved, the United States Should Adopt a “Single-Payer (Canadian Style) National Health Care System,” drew a large crowd. The event was sponsored by Delta Upsilon. The debate also addressed the pros and cons of the Single-Payer Health Insurance system.”A general definition [of the Single-Payer System] would be the financing of health care expenses for a nation’s entire population through a single source, with funds collected through progressive taxation of citizens and businesses,” an excerpt from “A Single Payer Health Care System for the United States” said.In this excerpt, it also states that the United States is the only country in both NATO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that does not provide health insurance to all of its citizens.Brown, debating the pro side, said, “[The] health care system in the U.S. is a mess and although per capita health expenditure in the U.S. is among the largest in developed countries, we get less compared to what we spend.””The number of uninsured is growing and growing,” Brown added. “The answer to this problem is that moving to universal health care will save money and [that money] will help 44 percent of currently uninsured citizens.”Though Phelps, debating the con side, agreed with Brown that many citizens do not now have health insurance, he showed his concern about the Single-Payer System, asking, “Will this Canadian system fix the current problem?”Phelps argued that “universal” is an arbitrary term when considering how many non-citizens live in the U.S. Immigration issue must be resolved,” Phelps said.He then listed the top three causes of death by U.S. citizens – tobacco consumption, obesity and alcohol problems. “Are we going to cover up things like smoking?” Phelps asked. “Whether you smoke or not, it has nothing to do with health care. We have to fix the lifestyle – it doesn’t matter if we change the health care system.” However, Phelps said that Canadians are not keeping up with the Single-Payer System. The recent result illustrates that despite making appointments, patients in Canada must wait very long time to actually see the physicians. “Until I find the comfortable answer, I am against it,” Phelps said.Also regarding the cost issue, Phelps mentioned a program called Medical Savings Account. In this program, individuals spend their own money carefully by choosing what drugs they want and what drugs they do not want. As a result, the program will cut the cost and there will be more money for the research fund. Sophomore Erik Rainey said, “I support the Single-Payer System, but the MSA program [would] make sense too if I knew more about economics side of the program.””However, I wish there were more opposed arguments [from] Provost Phelps instead of supporting some parts of Professor Brown’s arguments,” Rainey added.Towards the end of the debate, Brown commented, “People asked why Canadian system? So I said because Canada is familiar and close to us, and if they could adopt it then we can adopt it too.”Aoyama can be reached at yaoyama@campustimes.org.



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