Health Care in America

Adams Center Symposium Explores the Options

Image of an Emergency Room

The Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society hosted the two-day symposium Code Blue: Can We Save the Health Care System? on March 25 and 26. The symposium examined the current state of health care coverage in the United States and explored whether the nation should adopt a universal health care system.

Allan Sobel, director of the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society, notes that approximately 50 million Americans are without health insurance, and as unemployment rates increase in today’s volatile economy, the number of uninsured will likely rise. “Sudden illness cannot be postponed like the purchase of a new car or clothes,” says Sobel. “Consequently, millions of Americans constantly face looming financial disaster.”

The symposium kicked off with keynote speaker Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at The New Republic and best-selling author of Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis—and the People Who Pay the Price. For the past decade, while working at The New Republic, Cohn has been writing about national politics and its effect on American communities. Cohn’s stance on health care was solidified when he wrote the book Sick, which looks into the negative effect that the current health care system has on ordinary Americans across the country.

In addition to Cohn’s keynote address, the health care symposium featured three panel discussions and a closing dialogue. Participants in the panel discussions included Dr. Nina Taggart, vice president of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania; Sherry Glied, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University; Dr. Glenn D. Steele Jr., president and chief executive officer of Geisinger Health System; and Paul Wessel, field director for the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. The panel discussions explored the role of government, employers and insurers in health care coverage; the balance between affordability and comprehensive coverage; and barriers to health care coverage reform.

The concluding dialogue addressed whether the United States should adopt a universal health care system. Dr. Claudia Fegan, former president of Physicians for a National Health Care Program, spoke in favor of adopting a universal health care system, while Devon Herrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, opposed the idea.


Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Sondra Zanetto ’09 and Julie Buckingham ’09.

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