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.
Bob Kerrey is president of The New School in New York City.
For twelve years prior to becoming president of The New School, Bob Kerrey represented the State of Nebraska in the United States Senate. Before that, he served as Nebraska's governor for four years.
Bob Kerrey is the author of When I Was A Young Man: A Memoir, published by Harcourt Books (May 2002). He served as a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, currently leads a five year writing challenge sponsored by The National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges, and is co-chair with Newt Gingrich of The National Commission for Quality Long-Term Care.
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.