Health Care Trade-Offs: Where is the Public?

The American public is more aware of the costs of healthcare reform than it was 15 years ago, but still hasn’t resolved the trade-offs around making healthcare a universal right, raising questions about the Obama administration’s goal of reform this year. This ruling was delivered by a panel of five “judges” in a mock trial presided over by "Chief Justice" Rich Harwood at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2009.  

“It’s clear that there’s a mandate for Congress and the president and those in the country to work on this issue and take action. But it’s not clear exactly what action we ought to take and what cost and who should bear the burden.”

The trial, sponsored by the Kettering Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, was designed to evaluate outcomes from hundreds of National Issues Forums in 39 states where participants weighed the pros and cons of three approaches to healthcare: require minimal coverage for all to reduce the threat of financial ruin, restrain costs in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and provide universal healthcare coverage as a right.

Summing up for his colleagues, Harwood said that, to move forward, the public needs an expanded awareness of the choices they face in healthcare reform, an understanding of the trade-offs and who will bear them, and additional public spaces where citizens can talk to each other.

The question, Harwood said, is whether citizens can all step forward to think and act in the public good in order to arrive at our destination.

(Excerpted from the full Kettering Foundation write up)