Picture this: A family member does not have a clean medical history. The result? They are unable to gain affordable health care insurance and, ultimately, remain uninsured.
This scenario is all too familiar for many students and individuals nationwide who have felt the consequences of the healthcare crisis. To bring these issues to light, economics professor Wing Woo initiated the event, “How to really prevent health care reform from disappointing us in the future,” scheduled today for 3:30 p.m. at the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center.
“We have come to a great turning point in history; we should become more informed citizens and lobby for the health care bill that would serve the country best,” Woo said. “We are overwhelmed with misinformed people and false information.”
Woo hoped that by incorporating two different perspectives regarding the health care debate, attendees and voters could formulate an educated opinion on the matter.
Keynote speakers include UCLA’s Vice Chancellor Tom Rice and Joel Hay, USC’s founding chair of the Pharmaceutical Economics Policy Department. Speakers plan to discuss topics such as the newly presented legislation in Congress, which predicts increased coverage for 36 million Americans that are currently uninsured.
“Health care is a human right and a basic necessity,” said Thelma Mendoza, a senior international relations major. “Regardless of your salary, everyone should have equal coverage and have access to medical facilities. I think it’s important that new legislation provide affordable health care for all.”
Provisions in recent legislation make increasingly affordable health care possible by providing subsidies for those who are far below the poverty line. Yet there has been harsh opposition from certain groups who fear their own incomes will decline to contain the high costs of healthcare.
“The main problem is that [the new legislation] does not do much of anything to address high overall health care costs,” Rice said. “Containing costs could result in many groups having lower incomes. Those groups will forcefully oppose such reforms. If legislation passes, then Obama and future leaders will have to come up with a politically acceptable way to contain future health care costs. But those methods are not in the current bills.”
However, these health care provisions in the new legislation, if passed, would benefit those who have felt the immediate effects of being unable to obtain affordable insurance.
Kendra Staggs, a junior, has struggled with her family’s climbing medical debt over the years as a result of her father’s heart condition, cardiac arrhythmia. Though Staggs’ father applied for insurance coverage to multiple insurance companies, the high costs due to his medical history prevented him from receiving any of the coverage needed to cover the costs of his medical expenses.
“You shouldn’t be prevented from receiving health care,” Staggs said. “Everybody should be entitled to some form of coverage. With the subsidies offered in the new legislation, my dad would be entitled to some form of health insurance, even if it’s not complete coverage. It would be better than having no health insurance at all.”
In addition to shedding light on the different perspectives on Obama’s and Congress’ plan of action, the primary focus of tonight’s event is to provide insight and promote awareness among students and the community regarding current health care issues.
“It’s very important for students and other community members be informed about health policy issues,” Rice said. “In the U.S. we spend about one sixth of national wealth on health care. All of these costs, in one way or another, are paid for by the public. Moreover, having a health care system that can be effective in sustaining people’s health is essential.”
REBECCA SHRAGGE can be reached at email@example.com.