Collegetown Discussion

Featured story image

Using the knowledge and acumen she often employed as the nation’s longest-serving secretary of health and human services, UM President Donna E. Shalala spoke to the group on a range of issues, addressing everything from the employer-based health care system to the 50 million uninsured people in the nation.

Featured story figure

With health care reform continuing to be a hot topic of debate, hundreds of City of Coral Gables residents concerned about the issue and how it will affect them turned out at the University of Miami’s Storer Auditorium.

As hundreds of City of Coral Gables residents and University of Miami employees sat in UM’s Storer Auditorium last Thursday evening, some of them privately debated a federal judge’s recent ruling that declared President Barack Obama’s health care law unconstitutional.

One gentleman chatted with a friend about the legal battle looming over the Affordable Care Act, while a woman discussed the components of the law, telling a friend that she was pleased with the provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans until age 26.

The topics of conversation were varied but all of the men and women in attendance, young and old, had assembled for one thing: to hear one of the nation’s leading authorities on health care weigh in on the controversy over health care reform.

Using the knowledge and acumen she often employed as the nation’s longest-serving secretary of health and human services, UM President Donna E. Shalala spoke to the group on a range of issues, addressing everything from the employer-based health care system to the 50 million uninsured people in the nation.

“We’re all in this together,” said Shalala.

Her talk, “Health Care Reform: An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” inaugurated the Collegetown Faculty Lecture Series, a new forum in which UM faculty experts will engage the community in intellectual discourse on timely topics. The lecture series is part of a recently passed Development Agreement between UM and Coral Gables.

Speaking in the same venue where she teaches a course on the politics and economics of health care to UM juniors and seniors, President Shalala told audience members that 70 to 80 percent of the uninsured people in the U.S. are workers who struggle at one or two jobs every day to make ends meet—people for whom a health care crisis would spell an economic disaster.

She explained that one of the primary goals of Obama’s Affordable Care Act is to insure the working poor, providing subsidized coverage based on their income levels. Shalala discussed other components of the law, noting how one in particular—coverage for young adults up to 26 on their parents’ or guardians’ health plans—will benefit graduate students.

The former HHS secretary also made the audience aware of why it is important that everyone be insured, explaining that the cost of paying for people who don’t have health insurance is shifted to the insured.

With an influx of 30 million more insured people, Shalala said the nation’s health care system will need to become more efficient, and that information technology and medical records can play a major role in increasing quality.

She said Americans will need to shoulder some of the responsibility for their health care, such as eating right and not smoking. Shalala ended the discussion with a Q&A, taking questions on topics ranging from insurance coverage for mental health to the Florida federal judge’s recent decision to invalidate the health care bill.


Share it with others

More 'Canes in the Community Stories