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Panelists preached to the choir Tuesday night as they advocated for every American to have health care insurance.
In its second forum, Kansas Health Care for All played host to a panel of doctors. Their consensus was that a government-run health insurance system - similar to Medicare, but offered to all - could work.
Michael Fox, a panelist and president of Kansas Health Care Consumer Coalition, said such a system would be easy to understand, use infrastructure already in place, save money, make the country more competitive globally and keep private insurance companies intact but rein in their profits.
"But the most persuasive argument I have heard is that it is simply the right thing to do," Fox said.
Joining Fox on the panel were Bill Roy, a former U.S. Congressman, and Raymond Davis, a retired professor with Kansas University's Department of Public Administration. Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Dr. David Goering moderated the discussion.
Goering started off the night with a PowerPoint presentation as he told the crowd that while the United States spends far more per person on health care than any country in the world, its quality of service lags behind.
Goering treats patients who are admitted to the hospital. Many are uninsured and use the emergency room as a medical avenue of last resort. Goering noted that not taking care of the uninsured can be expensive.
"We leave people out thinking it will cost less, but it ends up costing more. Oftentimes when they go to the ER, their care is delayed, their disease has advanced, and we end up paying for that," he said.
The audience at LMH's auditorium numbered more than a hundred. It was a mix of seniors, health care professionals, universal health care advocates and students. For more than 45 minutes, they peppered the panelists with questions.
After panelists extolled the virtues of Canada's universal health care system, some in the crowd wanted to know if it resulted in long waits and substandard care.
"It's pretty much the opposite," Davis said. "They are more careful in the way they allocate resources and in spending more time trying to figure out what works."
One audience member wanted to know when the discussion - and advocates - would shift from policy to politics.
Roy said a change toward universal health care needs a U.S. Congress that has two-thirds of its members from the Democratic Party.
Fox disagreed, saying the problem isn't one clearly defined by party lines. He urged the audience to start at the grass-roots level.
"People have to get active," Fox said.