New School President and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey hosts a debate from the recording studio in the U.S. Senate to discuss the health care reform debate raging on Capitol Hill.
He is joined by three top advisors to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators Edward Kennedy and Max Baucus, the Democratic leaders shaping reform legislation.
Panelists provide an inside look at the latest proposed legislative approaches to health care reform, including a public health care plan, reducing reform's price tag, taxing employer-provided health care benefits, points of agreement -- and tension -- between the White House and Congress, and lessons learned from the Massachusetts model of universal coverage.
January 1, 2011, Bob Kerrey completed his tenure as seventh President of The New School, a university founded on strong democratic ideals and daring educational practices, an environment that was well suited for his leadership. He also served as New School's President Emeritus from January 1, 2011 to January 31, 2013.
Prior to coming to The New School Bob Kerrey represented Nebraska in the United States Senate. For two terms, Senator Kerrey emphasized the direct connection between citizens and their laws, and made a concerted effort to allow Nebraskans to participate in writing laws that defined the quality and inclusiveness of their health care system, their schools and the safety of their communities. He served on the Senate's Agriculture and Forestry Committee, Senate's Appropriations Committee, Senate's Finance Committee, and last but not least on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence where he worked to restructure our intelligence agencies to improve their capacity to meet the threats faced by our country. Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate Bob Kerrey served a single term as Nebraska's Governor. He established a reputation as a fiscal conservative who regularly crossed political party lines for the good of Nebraska and the Country.
Bob Kerrey served three years in the United States Navy. While in Vietnam, he was wounded, permanently disabled from the injury, and from this injury received a great gift: Sympathy for those who are suffering and an appreciation for the capacity of government to save your life. Before his time in the Navy Bob Kerrey attended the University of Nebraska graduating in January 1966 with a BS degree in pharmacy. He was born in Lincoln and attended public schools there. In 2002 he published a memoir "When I Was A Young Man."
Bob Kerrey is married to Sarah Paley and lives in New York. The couple has a 12-year-old son, Henry, and Mr. Kerrey has two children from his previous marriage, Ben and Lindsey Kerrey, and four grandchildren.
Kate Leone is senior health counsel to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). She works on Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, health coverage, and prescription drug and medical device issues. Ms. Leone joined Senator Reid's staff in January 2005 after serving as counsel to the previous Senate Democratic Leader, Tom Daschle, and working as a senior policy advisor with the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.
Her previous experience includes working on health-care matters as an attorney for the United States Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. She received a J.D. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Cornell University.
Dr. McDonough advises Senator Kennedy on national health reform and is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the former executive director of Health Care For All, Massachusetts' leading consumer health advocacy organization. From 1998 through 2003, he was an associate professor at the Heller School at Brandeis University. Prior to that, he served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he co-chaired the Joint Committee on Health Care.
Russ Sullivan plays a leading role in helping the Senate Finance Committee, led by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), to shape the nation's tax system. Mr. Sullivan served as the committee's chief tax counsel under former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and as tax counsel and legislative director for then-Senator Bob Graham (D-FL).
A panel of Senate advisors discuss how health care reform passed by Congress would ideally incorporate a new standardized system of keeping electronic medical records, both lowering costs and improving patient care. New School President Bob Kerrey moderates.
Senate staffers Kate Leone and Russ Sullivan affirm that the goal of health care reform is to make sure it is affordable and accessible to all. Debate about how to achieve that goal has included the possibility of making basic health coverage mandatory.
When Farrah Fawcett sought medical attention at one hospital, a member of the hospital staff leaked the info to the tabloids.
If this can happen to a celebrity, what are the safeguards for everybody else? In my community, most everybody can find out bank balances by asking around. Confidentially may receive official lip service, but the reality is quite different. I certainly don't want my medical records for all to view at the local hospital.
I see the advantages from the perspective of medical efficiency, but how can access be controlled and what little privacy left to us be preserved?
As this panel illustrates so nicely, Washington's fundamental problem is that it has little cost-cutting credibility.
A far more salable reform is to cut health care costs first - in half - then "show taxpayers the money", then propose how it wants to spread those savings around. Obviously, they'd rather spend the money first, then wish-upon-a-star for the savings.
Further, expanding entitlements at this time cannot be competent management by any stretch of the imagination, given that government has committed each family to pay nearly $1,000,000 in unfunded public obligations already - between "debt owed to the public", unfunded government employee retirement benefits, and the senior subsidies of Social Security and Medicare.
Adding yet another financially exorbitant "human right" only gives the train of US public finances more momentum before it derails.