Obama asks for health care solutions

Sandra Burt of Concord, N.H., was one of the 400 people who came to UVM’s Davis Center on March 17 to tell President Barack Obama about changes that need to be made to the health care system in the United States.”I lost my job on my 65th birthday and I had been there for 24 years,” Burt said. “I was under the disillusion that I could go on Medicare because I’m on a drug that’s $2,730 a month and [there’s] no one to pay for it.”Vermont Governor James Douglas and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick moderated the by-invitation-only event. Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office for Health Reform, attended to hear the discussion points and report back to the President. Providing answers to the audience was not the intention of this forum. Instead, the objective was to field ideas from the surrounding region and send them to Washington.”I am concerned about when I go off my parents’ insurance in two months and I can’t afford to continue to buy my own insurance, especially without any job prospects, what I would like to know from Obama is what about the next generation?” the only UVM student to speak at the forum, senior Bronwyn Fleming Jones said. “What about preventative health care?” Obama opened the forum with a pre-recorded video message acknowledging the issues with the health care system, but putting the responsibility of answering these questions back on the forum attendees. “This time there is no debate about whether all Americans should have quality, affordable health care — the only question is how?” Obama said.Due to the importance and size of the forum, demonstrators gathered outside the Davis Center before the forum to show their support for a single-payer health care system, more commonly known as universal health care.Rabbi Schuman was one such demonstrator hoping to put single-payer on the table.”Today we hear that we must not sacrifice the perfect for the possible. The perfect would be that nobody gets sick,” Schuman said. “Universal healthcare, equitable, affordable and accessible healthcare for every American is not perfection. It is simply the fulfillment of a basic human right.” “We can demonstrate here in Vermont how such a system can work,” he said. “Medicare for all, let it begin in Vermont.”Dr. Ken Thorpe, chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management at Emory University, emphasized the importance of a change in the health care system but recognized the long road ahead. “I hope that we think about some ways to do some compromise, to think about some middle ground,” Thorpe said. “At the end of the day, what I think is most important is getting everybody covered. Let’s not get us killed in the details, we can fix the details later.”At the end of the two-hour forum, DeParle wrapped up the conversations by promising to take all of the ideas that she had heard back to the White House to continue the discussion.