Lee Ketzel, longtime Lawrence resident and League of Women Voters member, is frustrated with the current health care system.
“Most of us want universal coverage and we’re fed up that we are the only (industrialized) country that doesn’t offer anything close to that,” she said. “How close is Congress to passing that?”
Ketzel’s question was launched at a three-person panel Saturday during the League of Women Voters of Lawrence/Douglas County’s forum on health care.
With the debate over health care reform front and center in Congress, now is the time to speak out, according to Michael Fox, a panel member and Kansas University professor of health policy management.
“At this point, given that now everything is up for negotiation, (lawmakers) have to be reminded of that from real live consumers — it is important that everyone receives some kind of coverage, regardless,” Fox said.
With health care reform proposals in front of Congress, the local League of Women Voters group is taking a look at how best to advocate for change.
On Saturday, Janis McMillen on the national board of the League of Women Voters discussed the organization’s stand.
At one time the national organization did support members lobbying at the state level for a single-payer system, which would have one entity administer health care insurance and provide coverage for everyone.
But it has since taken away that support.
“We feel if we get so strongly focused on a single-payer system as something we want now, we will be marginalized in the final discussions,” McMillen said. “We would rather have a place at the table now.”
Advocating for a single-payer system was David Burress, president of Ad Astra Institute of Kansas, a progressive think tank.
Fox also spoke in favor of the system but doubted its feasibility.
“It is logical, it is easy to understand, it is the cheapest … but folks, I am here to tell you it ain’t going to happen,” Fox said. “And part of it is because of political mistakes.”