The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 27, 2009

Speakers debate need for health-care reform

SELINSGROVE -- Universal health-care coverage: To be or not to be?

That was the question at Thursday night's program in the Degenstein Center Theater at Susquehanna University, moderated by Allan D. Sobel, director of the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society.

Health care always has been a major issue in America, and under the new political regime, it has become an even bigger one with President Obama's push for change in funding and availability. Thursday night's discussion concluded the university's two-day symposium on health-care reform.

Presenting the two sides of the issue were Devon Herrick, senior fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Claudia Fegan, a board-certified internist and former president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

"I am in favor of everyone having access to health care," Herrick said. "I am opposed to the current view on how they plan to achieve universal health care."

Access to health care is problematic, the quality is inconsistent and the cost is high, Herrick said.

Last year, Americans spent $2.3 million on health care costs. The reason, he said, is because of increased longevity, the overuse of third-party payment, low cost control and less out-of-pocket payments.

Obama's proposal is for mandated health insurance, but Herrick said he believes those goals will not be achieved for several reasons. Mandated insurance is difficult to enforce, he said, and will drive up the cost of coverage and encourage special-interest groups while reducing consumer choice.

Mandated acceptance by health insurance providers would encourage Americans to wait to obtain insurance until it is needed, and mandated benefits would increase the cost for each person, even though the person may not need specific coverage, Herrick argued.

But Fegan, a proponent of single-payer health care, which means every American is covered by a government-run health-care system, said a universal health-care system is for the societal good.

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