Health care panel encourages students to be informed

Thursday, October 1, 2009 | 9:53 p.m. CDT; updated 12:05 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 2, 2009
Lee Modesitt, 20, asks a question regarding health care reform as, from left, Courtney Poskin, 22, and Andrea Johnson, 20, listen at a panel on health care in Allen Auditorium.

COLUMBIA — As many young people face an uncertain health care industry, some MU student groups want their peers to know how reform will affect them.

At least a hundred students turned out Thursday night to a health care discussion sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri. The discussion, which was co-sponsored by the College Democrats and College Republicans, consisted of a cross-campus panel of experts from several different fields and gave students a chance to voice their opinions about the current state of health care.


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“This all started back in August, when Congress was on its summer recess and there was a lull in the health care reform,” ASUM Campus Director Woody Smelser said. “We wanted to host an event that would engage students on an interesting political topic and one that’s very relevant to them as well.”

Many students went to the discussion to ask questions, saying they wanted to become more informed.

“I'd like to have a deeper knowledge of the health care debate,” senior Elizabeth Peters said. “I think college kids, because we tend to be on our parents insurance, don’t think that this pertains to us."

Some students who went to the discussion want to go into the health care industry and came to see what their colleagues in the medical fields had to say.

“I’m always interested to see what kind of information other people have versus what I have,” said senior Ricky Long, a health professions student.

Students wrote their questions down and directed them to the moderator, who read them aloud to the panel. Some students directed their questions to a specific member of the panel and others directed them to all of the experts.

The discussion was lively throughout the night. Some of the questions students asked included: “Why should illegal immigrants have access to health care?” “How will the proposed reform affect those 65 and older?” and “Why should my parents pay for those people who choose to engage in unhealthy behavior, such as smoking and drinking?”  

Kristofer Hagglund, the associate dean of the School of Health Professions; Kim Dude, MU Wellness Resource Center director; Steve Zweig, a physician; Jeff Milyo, an MU economics professor; and Phil Peters, an MU law professor, all fielded questions from students and offered their professional opinions on the health care system.

Each panelist brought a different perspective to the discussion, though they all agreed on one thing: Being well informed is imperative to understanding how the health care debate will affect students.  

“The only way we’re going to make any progress on this is for all of us to do it together,” Zweig said.

“Everyone could probably be better informed,” Milyo said. “Many people who try to be well informed are misinformed.”

The panel didn't offer any conclusions about health care. In fact, it raised more questions. But some students left feeling more informed, which Smelser said was the goal.

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