Symposium to focus on health care

As the buzz about health care reform grows, Kansas University’s School of Law is taking up the issue.

About 50 lawyers, faculty members and others are expected to convene at 9:30 a.m. today at Green Hall for the Kansas Law Review’s 2006 Symposium.

“It’s part of a larger plan for the law school to really increase and grow it’s prominence in the academy and in the public eye as well,” said Elizabeth Weeks, KU associate professor of law and a speaker at the symposium.

The event will focus on the health care plan in Massachusetts, where lawmakers in April approved a plan requiring that all residents have some form of health insurance. The measure over the next three years will broaden health care access and reach the state’s 500,000 uninsured residents.

“It’s really generated a lot of interest and a lot of renewed discussion about some of the Clinton-era ideas about universal coverage,” Weeks said.

She said the law school and its new dean, Gail Agrawal, are working to put the school on the national map. Agrawal specializes in health care law.

“We really hope that the law school – with our dean’s arrival – can increase its national presence and continue to serve Kansas and the Kansas bar, but also be a voice on important issues for the nation,” Weeks said.

Agrawal, who has a background in public health, said the symposium would cover how the Massachusetts model works, its future, its costs, the benefits, problems and solutions.

“Everyone who has their roots in public health sees health care coverage as one of the pressing social issues of our time,” she said. “I don’t know that the Massachusetts model is going to be the answer. I’m just happy that the question is on the table again.”

Speakers include Melissa Jacoby of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law; Christie Hager, chief health counsel in the office of Salvatore DiMasi, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; and Marcia Nielsen, interim executive director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority.