When biological sciences senior Rachel Hornstein asked Cal Poly students what they knew about health care reform recently, she was shocked to find that the overall answer was “not much.” This led to the idea for her senior project, an event aimed at educating students, faculty and the community about the ins and outs of reform. The event, being held next Monday at the Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre, features three hand-picked speakers.
“It is really complicated,” Hornstein said. “I don’t know everything and I have been working on it for over a year.”
The different options presented in the bill are the main source of confusion for people. From the “virtual marketplace” to single-payer, the health care reform debate has many complex topics. According to Hornstein, the three big issues surrounding this topic are accessibility, affordability and availability, she added.
“A lot of people have been concerned about how it will affect their personal insurance,” Hornstein said. “It is a huge money issue as well and it is good to have a discussion.”
Cost is one of the factors people are most worried about when discussing health care.
The controversial parts of the proposed bill include the public option, cost and the use of rationing health care. The new proposed program raises question of how much the government should control, Hortenstein added. These concerns affect the debate, its outcome and college students, because they are directly affected by the reform.
College students might not be paying for their health care now, but when they graduate many will be.
When Hornstein visited classrooms and asked students who knew about the health care reform, she only saw a few hands go up in the air.
“I hear a lot about the negatives about (the bill), but not about exactly what it’s going to do,” English junior Nick Georgoff said.
Hornstein stressed that undergraduates need to understand that they will have to buy into health care at some point.
“I am just used to being insured,” English junior Elizabeth Blaine said. “I guess you don’t really think about it.”
Hornstein’s background in this topic began in childhood with a family of health care professions and then pursuing the career herself. It was also fueled by her work this summer.
After working in Washington D.C. with a few organizations working toward health care reform, Hornstein knew she wanted to create an accessible event that would educate college students.
“I know what students want: free, food and fun,” Hornstein said.
The event will be held Nov. 23 as one of a three-part series (one per quarter). The presentation will help students to formulate an opinion on health issues. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided at 4:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 5 p.m. This event will also be live-streamed at mustangdaily.net/live with a live chat available.
For this event Hornstein coordinated a diverse panel of experts, which included a doctor, a lawyer and the dean of admissions at USC Medical School.
“I was researching a lot of similar programs and I wanted it to come from all different sides,” Hornstein said. “I also found it to be more comprehensive.”
Health policy advocate and attorney Dr. Joel Diringer was chosen as a panelist because he has worked with farm workers in San Luis Obispo for nearly three decades, Hornstein said. He said that Congress is not really debating “health reform” but rather medical insurance reform.
The “real” cost of medical care is a viewpoint that is not widely discussed, Diringer added.
“It (the bill) does little to address the real costs of medical care which are driven by preventable chronic diseases related to diet, exercise, personal habits such as smoking and environment,” he said.
Diringer has been consulting independently since 1991. As one of the original senior staff of the California Endowment (the state’s largest health foundation), Diringer worked to get over $50 million in 150 grants, which helped to “improve health of low-income Californians.”
“Most of the money was geared toward the under-served and the uninsured,” Diringer said.
Dr. James Hornstein, Rachel Hornstein’s father, has been practicing family medicine for 25 years and is currently the director of ethics and palliative care for Community Health Systems in Ventura. He has taught bioethics classes at University of California, Los Angeles and University of Southern California. Rachel Hornstein said that his background made him an obvious choice for the panel.
The health care reform will have its effects on the health care professionals as well. This includes students going into the health care profession. Dr. Erin Quinn, dean of admission for the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, will provide a look into enrollment and admissions to medical school and how the reform could affect this.
Hornstein said the goal of the panel is to address many of the overarching questions that students have about health care.
“This is something we need to be a part of,” Rachel Hornstein said. It’s me, it’s you. It starts with our meeting, our words.”