Critics of Health Care Speak Out in Panel

Harvard School of Public Health Professors Norman Daniels and Meredith Rosenthal made light of the partisan debate that preceded last spring’s controversial health care overhaul in a discussion on universal health care last night.

“I support death panels,” Rosenthal said.

“So do I,” Daniels replied.

The discussion, which focused on the health care bill’s structural issues and its ethical implications, was the Harvard College Health Policy Society’s inaugural event this year.

While the conversation—which took place in a half-vacant room in Emerson Hall—was advertised as an opportunity to discuss the bill’s ramifications for students, it evolved into a discussion on its problems.

Rosenthal, who researches the economics of health policy, described how a heated political process inhibited the health care bill’s scope and effectiveness.

She said that one of the bill’s main flaws is its failure to address how health care providers are paid and how health care is delivered. She added that while the legislation builds a foundation for universal health insurance, it still leaves large gaps in coverage.

“This bill is really a beginning and not an end,” Rosenthal said.

Daniels, whose research focuses on the ethical issues of health policy, spoke about the need for universal health care coverage in the United States.

“We live in a very unequal society” that “owes people universal access” to health care, Daniels said.

Though the event was hosted by a College organization, Harvard School of Public Health student Craig White dominated Daniels and Rosenthal’s question-and-answer session with the audience.

White said he was interested in the misinformation among voters on universal health care, which he said fueled anger in the electorate.

“People didn’t know what they were angry about,” he said. “[The bill] really should have gone further.”

The event was especially pertinent at this time because portions of the health care bill went into effect last week, said Vernon Wu ’12, co-executive director of the Health Policy Society.

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