October 13, 2009
In the fall the Center for Law, Health & Society hosted a Point-Counterpoint debate on health care reform prior to Congress passing reform legislation in spring 2010. The debate was co-sponsored by The Docket, the law student newspaper, and moderated by the Center’s associate director, Jerri Nims Rooker.
Ms. Nims Rooker kicked off the program by stating that much of the current debate over reforming America’s health care system focuses on how to reduce the cost of health care, increase patient access to needed care, and maintain or improve the quality of care patients receive. After discussing examples of proposed reforms to meet these needs, she explained that "Balancing the interdependent goals of access to high-quality, affordable care is a primary challenge currently facing policy makers."
Second-year law student and Docket Editor-in-Chief Robert Bexley summed up the current state of health care in the U.S. by quoting the Led Zeppelin lyric, "If it keep on rainin’, the levee gonna break." He discussed whether Americans are entitled to health care and who should pay for care, concluding with thoughts on current reform proposals. He compared the right to health care to the right to call firemen to extinguish a threatening fire.
Regarding proposed reforms, Mr. Bexley suggested that a combination of public health insurance offered by the federal government to compete with private insurers, tighter regulation of the health insurance industry, and competition encouraged by a health insurance market-place exchange, would contribute towards mending the ailing health care system.
Kevin Bradberry, a third-year law student, pointed out the needs to tailor reform solutions to fix specific problems. He stated, "Operating on one’s foot won’t remedy a failing heart." He reiterated the goals of reform to lower costs, increase access, and raise quality.
Mr. Bradberry discussed using comprehensive tort reform, sound financing, and tax equity to lower costs. He stressed the need to reduce defensive medicine, restructure health care financing, and implement a tax break for individuals purchasing health insurance. He concluded that allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines could increase access through competition and that a "One size fits all solution" does not meet the needs of a diverse population.
A lively question-and-answer session followed the program.