School reacts to bill passed by House

As the health insurance reform bill moves to the Senate, the St. John’s community weighs in on the national debate.

The proposal, Affordable Health Care for America, which made it’s way through the House by a vote of 220-215, aims to build on “what works in today’s health care system, while repairing the aspects
that are broken.”

If passed, as adopted by the House, the bill would not allow insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, and also force many employers to provide workers with some form of medical insurance.

The bill requires Senate approval before President Obama can sign it into law.

About 47 million Americans are uninsured and nearly 1.1 million part-time workers lost their health insurance last year, reports The National Coalition on Health Care. Nearly seven million Americans will lose health coverage by 2010 if efforts are not made to reform health care.

The National Coalition on Health Care is the nation’s largest representative alliance working to reform America’s health care. The Coalition brings together large and small businesses, the nation’s largest labor, consumer, religious and primary care provider groups, and the largest health and pension funds.

“As a great nation, we should provide health care access to those who are uninsured, even illegal immigrants,” said Franklin Camerano, associate professor of Social Sciences. “I think we should have one health system provided by the government, even if it takes 20 or 30 years to establish, that makes coverage access available to anyone, regardless of political status.”

Camerano, former St. John’s director of Health Administrations, also said that by providing more Americans with health care, medical conditions can be identified.
“With health care access, people can detect stages of diseases earlier so that their disease won’t reach critical proportions,” he said.

Freshman Jonathan Stuart felt similarly.
“If the bill is passed, [people] who have stage one cancer, won’t wait until [end] stage to get checked and it will be a good thing for people all around the country,” he said.

Thomas Olik, president of College Democrats, called the current health care system “broken” and said he felt that insurance companies have profited tremendously at the cost of average, working-class Americans.

“College students, and people in general, have so much to worry about, like ending up bankrupt due to a health emergency,” he said.

“I know a few students at St. John’s that don’t have health insurance, but if reform is passed, they will no longer have to worry about going bankrupt because of a sick family member.”

Meaghan Mapes, vice-president of College Republicans, said she is opposed to the bill.
“Although the bill has good intentions, it’s economically unfeasible and completely unrealistic. It will cost $1.055 trillion (congressional budget office) over the next decade which cannot be supported by our tax revenue. Additionally, after reading the bill there are a number of under the surface policy implications which intrude on state’s right and unconstitutionally grant the government excess powers,” she said.

Diane Heith, associate professor of Government and Politics, said she feels that the current health system is “overly complicated, restrictive, expensive, and often not sufficient,” to those who are covered by insurance.

“The current healthcare system is pretty dysfunctional,” she said.
“It works for people who have high quality coverage from their employers but not for the unemployed, underemployed, or self-employed.

“Overall, universal systems – governmental or privately run – do a better job of keeping an entire nation healthy.”

If the health care reform is not passed by the Senate, students at St. John’s will still be covered due to a university policy requiring students to obtain a St. John’s insurance plan if they are not already covered by a private insurance company.

The University’s insurance plan is provided by a Massachusetts-based company, Consolidated Health Plans, and costs $821 annually for undergraduate residents.

“In order to succeed academically, we want all of our students to stay healthy throughout the year,” said Pauline Tummino, director of Queens Health Services.

“Insurance plans in general vary greatly and the University takes great care in providing a plan that is affordable to its students.”