Healthcare reform was the theme of R World R Vote’s panel discussion last Thursday.
UR Professor of History Ted Brown defended a single payer health care system while Jim Fatula, chair of the public administration department at SUNY Brockport, argued that current healthcare reform strategies will not solve the problem of insuring every American citizen and further options need consideration.

‘We wanted to host a big event this fall about something like health care that is currently the hot topic in Washington and greatly affects our student body,” R World R Vote Co-Chair and senior Jess Gambacurta said.

Brown made clear he believes that the devil is in the details he began his speech by shedding light on what was not implied in the current debate. He showed how all of the current options leave out crucial parts even at their optimal realization and went on to claim that single payer is the most cost-efficient option saying it will save $350 billion annually.

‘Our policies, thereby, condition uninsured people to not receive health care out of fear of credit threats and other financial problems that follow,” Brown said in the moderately packed Gowen Room. ‘About 45,000 die every year because they do not have insurance, which is the major ticket to receiving health care in our society.”

Fatula echoed Brown, saying that the status quo in health care is unacceptable and, in 70 years, 49 percent of our economy will be devoted to health care spending. ‘This is the definition of unsustainability,” he said.
Fatula also underscored the complexity of the problem and that current healthcare reforms will not solve all the problems that come with insuring everyone.
‘There have always been groups of citizens with interests contrary to the rights of others and the interest of the whole community,” he said. ‘In a classic political system, there are winners and losers and reform simply means a different set of winners and losers.”

Brown, in his rather different approach to the issue compared to the other two panelists, believes that President Barack Obama has excluded the single payer/robust option out of a clear political calculation to accomplish at least something in his term.

‘President Obama acknowledges that a robust option will be linked to socialism and any rational debate over this legitimate topic will come to an end,” Brown said.
His defense of the single payer system extended further beyond its efficient cost.
‘Medicare for the whole system is not only the most cost efficient, but also the most morally and ethically right thing to do,” he concluded.

Despite Brown’s staunch defense of a single payer system, he was met with some skepticism during the question-and-answer session.
Junior Andrew Agnello posed questions to Brown on the legitimacy of the single payer system.
‘He used more of a copped out answer of saying that I was misinformed because of my differing viewpoints,” Agnello said.
He added that he posed a question to Brown asking why we don’t open health insurance companies across state lines, which would increase the competition between health insurance companies.

He said the answers that he got didn’t satisfy him.
‘They [the panelists] made me feel stronger about my own opinion and fortified my previous thoughts,” he said.

Junior Melissa Hewson, however, was convinced by Brown’s argument.
‘I must say that his speech passionately reignited my belief that a single-payer national health care system is our country’s best, and perhaps only, sensible option,” she said.

The event was interactive after a lengthy Q-and-A session, students were able to mingle through laptops set up in Hirst Lounge to research proposed bills and the contact information for their congressional representatives.

Gambacurta and junior Co-Chair Katie Bartolotta hoped to organize further events in the spring but also hoped students would take action through opportunities in RCCL.
Nevertheless, they were pleased with the event.

‘It was great to inform people with objective facts from these panelists and get them to take action,” Bartolotta said.
Rath is a member of the class of 2012.
Additional reporting by Conor Willis.



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