A group of public policy majors took on a daunting topic this spring in a debate over health care policy and how President Obama's reforms might be improved. And they got a little help from three alumni who served as outside experts and offered critiques of the 14 students' proposals: Jim Connolly '74, president of Ellis Hospital in Schenectady; James Millar '90, vice president for medical centers at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals; and Anthony Carello '09, a graduate student in law and public policy at Syracuse University.
The students, divided into two teams, offered such proposals as a universal Citizens' Health Benefit Package; affordability caps and cost-sharing; additional taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and unhealthy foods; and tort reform.
The alumni experts found a lot to like but issued some challenges as well: dealing with tobacco and alcohol lobbies, distinguishing between for-profit and nonprofit insurance companies, and — most fundamentally — whether health care is a right or a privilege. The session was moderated by Associate Professor of Government Gary Wyckoff, who also assembled the expert panel.