Crowley Discusses AIDS Policy at HLS

White House official discusses health care reform in Pound Hall

Congress has been debating health care reform for months, and yesterday evening the dialogue came to Harvard when Jeffrey Crowley, the current White House Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy, spoke to an audience of 50 at the Law School.

The discussion focused mainly on the extent to which the government will be able to provide health care coverage, particularly to those living with HIV/AIDS or disabilities.

Crowley said that comprehensive reform was the key to solving the health care and economic crises.

“We recognize that the status quo is what we need to fear,” Crowley said. “There’s no perfect health care system but we’ve got to start moving in the right direction,” he added.

Forum moderator and Health Law Clinic Director Robert Greenwald said before the event that he viewed the White House as a partner for community and advocacy groups in addressing the AIDS and health care crises. He also noted that the Obama administration is the first to create a specific national AIDS policy.

“You have to have not been paying attention to see that the Obama administration has put health care at the forefront of its agenda,” Greenwald said when introducing Crowley.

“As the health care debates go on we’ve been talking about reforms, but the impacts on people with particular needs such as HIV have not been discussed,” added Petrie-Flom Academic Fellow Allison K. Hoffman.

Crowley’s remarks assumed the audience’s support of health care reform, according to Law School student Michael B. Pilgrim, who thought the discussion was one sided.

“It was hard to separate political theatre from the actual substance of the speech,” Pilgrim said.

The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, which sponsored the event with HLS’s Health Law Clinic, is also actively engaged with partner health care organizations throughout Boston.

Their outreach attracted many attendees from outside Harvard.

Audience member Betsy Kunkel, who works for the non-profit HIV/AIDS resource center the Boston Living Center, wanted to hear from Crowley about how the administration plans to help the HIV/AIDS community.

“With the economic crisis we’re feeling the pinch terribly,” Kunkel said, adding that she came to the Law School event “looking for hope on the horizon.”

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