The Daily Targum

Health Care Forum Considers Congressional, National Motivations

The Daily Targum — Thursday, November 19, 2009

By Andrew Gold
Contributing Writer

A comprehensive single-payer health care system is not in the cards for Americans, but its specter still dominates some discussions surrounding health care reform.

Members of the general public and University community exchanged opinions, personal experiences and a few verbal jabs at a forum on health care sponsored by the Rutgers University Chapter of Amnesty International Wednesday night at the Douglass Campus Center, in order to discuss the proper way to move forward with health care reform.

Ellen Whitt of Healthcare-NOW! said a single-payer system would lower prescription drug costs, lower administrative costs and would generally be more efficient.

"This is more economical than anything that is being proposed in Congress right now," Whitt said.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have their own respective proposals on the table, but Thomas Knoche, a volunteer from Healthcare-NOW!, has problems with the legislation currently being discussed in Congress.

"It does not make health care a human right," he said. "We can have immigrants here doing work we won't do, but we won't give them health care coverage. ... Most alarming is that it strengthens corporate health care providers."

One particular amendment to the House bill drawing ire from pro-choice organizations is that of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-MI and Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, R-PA. The amendment provides that federal funds are in no way used to fund abortions for those receiving government subsidies to buy insurance.

Maretta Short of the National Organization for Women strongly disapproved of the House proposal, citing its hostility toward women's reproductive rights.

"This bill will primarily hit low-income women of color," Short said.

While NJ Citizen Action Health Care Campaign Coordinator Eve Weissman expressed disappointment with the fact that the only bill being seriously considered in Congress at the moment is an inadequate one.

"Dealing with something this big ... it is almost impossible to get it right the first time," she said.

She deemed the bill imperfect but ultimately better than nothing, insisting on the need to think realistically and improve on the bill that will actually become law.

Both proposals provide for the creation of a public option, but one that will be in competition with private insurers.

"We usually have a more international focus but we decided to shift our focus on U.S. human rights with this event," said Stephanie Murray, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and Amnesty member.

Adriana Crawford, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and Amnesty member, would have liked to see a higher turnout, but was still pleased with the event.

"It's important for people to be informed, so that was good," she said of the range of opinions presented on the issue.

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