A poster of an elephant clashing heads with that of an angry donkey was posted in front of the Storer Auditorium to signal the onset of the HealthCare Games.
The event pitted the Young and College Democrats and Republicans in a traditional 3-on-3 debate, where members from each organization argued their side on health care reform.
The participants and the audience were cordial throughout the night, despite hot topics such as the economic incentives and disincentives of ObamaCare (The Affordable HealthCare For America Act), the pragmatism of Governor Romney’s plan and the ethical and moral obligation of society in providing healthcare for its citizens.
Both sides took the traditional respective party positions with a few exceptions of personal insight swaying away from party dogma.
“I’m going to go away from party lines for a second and say I do believe it is an ethical part of government to help their citizens, especially with healthcare,” said Ryden Butler, a member of College Republicans. “The problem I see with Obamacare is this mandate system. You have to have healthcare, and you don’t really have a choice. It’s not ethical to force anyone to do any actions regardless of how good it may be.”
The main points that the Republicans were trying to drive home were that free market and competition will ultimately drive success in healthcare, and that creating the mandate system that Butler mentions is unethical.
“The current system is broken,” said Alexander Alduncin, another member of the College Republicans. “Romney turns 50 states into 50 experiments, and you get 50 chances at a successful attempt. That is the way that the health insurance market will be fixed.”
Alduncin later clarified that the Republicans believe there should be no federal mandate system but rather make healthcare, like gay marriage, a state-by-state issue.
On the other hand, the Democrats’ main issue of concern was the obligation that government and society have in providing healthcare to its citizens and maintaining a federal mandate system in which everyone is provided for healthcare and takes part in its costs.
“In the Declaration of Independence, it is stated that government is built for three things: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Gaurav Dhiman, a member of College Democrats. “The first one is life. To me, that means guaranteeing the basic right to health.”
Dhiman continued his statement by referring to Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, which made it obligatory for ER’s to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare, regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay.
Noting that the cost of this trickles down to ordinary people paying through their health insurance plans, the idea of ObamaCare is to make sure everyone takes part in this cost, and as well the notion that health is of primary importance.
The moderator, Kenneth Goodman, founder and director of the Bioethics Program, asked the question of whether or not either party would support a ½ penny tax proposed to Miami-Dade voters to support healthcare for the poor.
Butler replied to the question stating that the Republican position on this is clear.
“No new taxes,” he said. “A penny here and there. Where does it stop? It’s the concept of it and not the actual practice.”
Omari Hardy, a member of College Democrats, countered by saying this is the reason he believes the GOP today is guided by ideology and not evidence.
“If we need to give an extra ½ penny, then I’m going to say yes,” he said. “If we don’t need that, then I am going to say no. We need to look at the evidence before we jump the gun.”
The end of the debate left some like Ishpreet Singh satisfied with the opportunity to engage in national issues at a local level.
“Debate is always the best way to stimulate discussion and idea sharing, especially by having both parties live and on the spot without pre-prepped questions,” Singh said.
Sophomore Dave Capelli, however, voiced his irritability with both parties, claiming that both sides avoided core questions, implementing their own rhetoric and addressing only unilateral ethical concerns.
Goodman believes that the debate, regardless of the outcome, allowed students to use their critical thinking skills in the service of public policy and ethics.
“I think most people agree that civil society has a moral responsibility to make sure everybody has access to healthcare,” he said. “You do that even if you don’t like it because public health requires it.”