Heard on Campus: health care reform

October 16, 2009

The consensus of a panel of experts addressing health care reform in America is that change will come, but it will be in increments.

The 90-minute session taped for statewide broadcast by the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) was moderated by Jill Rumberg, assistant professor of health administration. The panel consisted of Dana Kellis, senior vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Pinnacle Health Systems, Associate Professor of Health Education Sam Monismith, and Associate Professor of Health Care Administration and Policy Cynthia Mara.

To the question of possible piecemeal initiatives rather than a single, universal piece of legislation, one observer from the audience commented, “Politically it’s not feasible to get everything at once; cost is the obstacle. If it’s done piecemeal, it could show the government actually works with those small successes.”

Monismith added, “Vested parties must compromise and it could lead to incremental change.”

Mara said, “I don’t see how (reform is) not piecemeal. The government must first focus on those 46 or 47 million without coverage. Lack of coverage is causing problems throughout the entire system.”

As part of the individual remarks, Kellis profiled the current state of legislation and noted that an “iron triangle” -- cost, quality, and access -- is driving the debate and all three must be addressed at the same time in order to effect true reform.

While there has not yet been total reform, Mara pointed out that “all the efforts over the decades have brought about changes in the system, but no universal health care.” Reforms such as the Health Maintenance Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and others have paved the way for more dramatic change.

Monismith said today's health care reform atmosphere is different than it has been in years past.

“There is now a will to make change,” he said.

Last Updated October 20, 2009