April 21, 2005

Panel Debates Health Care

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A panel of five men and women seemed to reach a consensus yesterday that many people view America’s health care as impractical and immoral. The panelists each spoke about health care and its possible reform.

The Cornell Organization for Labor Action (COLA), C.U. Amnesty International and the Tompkin County Health Care Task Force combined efforts to organize this panel and to try to get “Cornell and Ithaca aware” of the problems of Health Care, said Angelina Zamudio ’08, a member of COLA and organizer of this event.

Tompkins County Health Care Task Force has recently begun working with college students and promoting a universal health care plan around college campuses.

“We are ready to bring our politicians accountable,” said Berney Fetterly, a staff member of the task force.

The task force’s goal is to promote a universal health care plan that would make health care affordable and cost efficient. In supporting certain legislations, the task force promotes a “single payer health care” that furthermore increases the quality of health care.

“Any politician that sees people are not getting their health care is pretty cowardly not to take a stance … we need to get universal care to our people,” Fetterly said.

Scott Montani, an International Union Representative from United Autoworks began the panel, discussing his experiences in selling health care insurance to auto companies.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for employers to maintain health insurance while providing a decent wage,” Montani said.

In his job, Montani has experienced the overflowing problems companies are having in providing health insurance.

“Employers now look at employees as liabilities,” Montani said, whereas employees in the past had been assets. Montini emphasized how CEO’s today cut health care benefits for their employers “to be as profitable as they can be.”

Phil Fiadino, the Catholic Chaplain in Cornell’s Annabel Taylor Hall provided another perspective. “I would like to focus on the moral dimension of health care,” Fiadino said.

Fiadino cited a specific church document, “A Fair and Just Work Place: Principles and Justice of Health Care,” recently completed by a conference of bishops in order to promote that “affordable and accessible health care is an absolute and human right.”

This fundamental human right according to Fiadino is based on Catholic teachings that promote, among other things, the importance of family and community participation and the idea that everyone’s life is worthwhile.

“To deny healthcare is immoral,” Fiadino said.

“I want to tell you how it’s insane,” said another panelist, Tim Joseph (D-District 12), chair of the county legislature, referring to the current health insurance plan.

Fiadino said that every other country has a single, universal health care plan and believes that the United States should as well.

Fiadino cited a specific example of the “insane” nature of health insurance. Because of much confusion over prescription drug plans, “we [the legislature] spent a lot of time and energy” trying to find a solution, he said. Fiadino suggested a single, universal plan would have taken care of the confusion.

Pamela Finch from the Alliance for Affordable Health care further revealed the problems of health insurance.

“Health Insurance is not a one size fits all,” she said.

In her discussion, Finch blamed the government for passing laws which require certain demands of each health insurance plan.

“We need a system that makes a little more sense,” she said.

Lastly, Katherine Luz Herrera (D-District 5), a union electrician and county legislator, gave the perspective of a working class citizen. She believes that the increasing health care costs are inevitable. But, “I don’t have a comprehensible solution,” Herrera claimed.

Herrera cited specific examples from her life as an Electrician, democrat and a member of the TCAT board in Ithaca. As a working class citizen trying to obtain health insurance, she herself has experienced numerous road blocks.

“I do not think health care is right,” she claimed.

Archived article by Nessia Sloane
Sun Contributor