Sunday, November 8, 2009

Students speak out

Even though this blogger considers herself entrenched in public health and policy, I still haven’t quite figured out where I stand on the current health reform bill passed by the House of Representatives last night. Of course, I favor increased access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans, but will this bill do that? I just don’t know. So, I asked attendees at the APHA Student Assembly meeting in Philly what they think.

Veronyca Washington, a second-year MSPH candidate at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, said she’s skeptical this bill can change the whole structure of the health care system.

“The health care industry is profit-driven, and it’s hard to change that dynamic,” she said.

Washington’s interest is in prevention — something that too often gets lost in the medical side of the health system. After all, hospitals get paid when a cardiologist performs a triple bypass, not when heart disease is prevented in the first place. It’s more complicated to orient the system toward one that promotes health over economics.

Arlene Burns, of the DuPage County, Ill., Health Department, agreed.

“The health care system has been in place for years, and they are trying to rush it through too quickly,” she said.

Even though the current system is dysfunctional, Burns said opposition to the bill is to be expected.

The latest political hostage in the reform debate is coverage of abortion under a proposed public option insurance program. An amendment, which passed last night, would block people receiving federal subsidies for health insurance from buying policies that cover abortion services.
Tahra Johnson, an MPH student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said she understands the opposition to public funding of abortions. She identifies herself as pro-choice, and feels that abortions should be available as an option on private insurance plans or for people willing to pay out of pocket, but she said it shouldn’t be paid for with taxpayer money.

What about you, reader? What do you think about the health reform bill that passed last night on Capitol Hill? C’mon, we know you have an opinion — show it off in the comments sections below.

— P.T.

Above, a student takes to the mic during Saturday's Student Assembly meeting. Photo courtesy Jim Ezell/EZ Event Photography

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