Kennesaw State University played host to a debate Tuesday night in the auditorium of the Social Sciences building, entitled “The Great Debate I: Obamacare — Yes or No?”
Melvyn Fein, a professor of sociology at KSU, started his opening remarks against Obamacare with, “Promises, promises and promises,” and ended the night calling those promises made by President Barack Obama lies that have undermined trust in America.
“(The rollout) has been absolutely brilliant from start to end,” Fein said during the debate, dripping his words in thick sarcasm..
Fein said for weeks the online marketplace, www.healthcare.gov, has failed to enroll people in health insurance policies due to being overwhelmed by visitors.
The much publicized problem is just the first example of Obamacare’s failing and the lack of transparency about known problems by the Obama administration, Fein said.
Fein added that the entire premise of Obamacare is wrong, which is designed to bring more people under the “umbrella” of health coverage.
With a greater demand on services and the same amount of supply, Fein said health care costs will increase or there will have to be restrictions added on how coverage will be implemented.
“Obamacare will disastrously injure health outcomes” by having a two-tier system where the wealthy are able to afford great care and the poor are “getting leftovers,” Fein said.
And in the other corner
On the opposing side, favoring the rollout of Obamacare, was Kenneth White, an assistant professor of political science and criminal justice at KSU.
White said in his opening remarks the Affordable Care Act was passed by the U.S. Congress because of the “horrible” state of health care in the United States, which he said has an American dying every 20 minutes due to a lack of coverage.
Many Americans avoid medical care because of the high costs, which makes the conditions worse and often leads to more expensive treatment or death, White said.
Health outcomes will improve, White said, with mandates for free preventative treatment, instead of allowing “tumors to grow and things to fester.”
One of the greatest benefits of Obamacare is that the new legislation prevents Americans from being denied health coverage due to pre-existing conditions, like the 21 million Americans who suffer from arthritis, White said.
White practiced criminal defense and constitutional law in California before joining academia. His current research and publication topics range from the media and popular culture, to political participation and civil rights.
On Tuesday night, White said $2 billion is spent on pet products in the country every year, and people wait in long lines to upgrade their Apple products.
Yet, opponents of Obamacare complain about the increase in premiums for some Americans, White said.
He added for the average young woman, premiums will decrease, and that most people will have access to subsidies to help cut costs.
On the backs of the middle class
Fein is a certified clinical sociologist who spent more than 20 years in practice. He is the author of numerous books and academic papers, including “The Great Middle Class Revolution.”
Young adults are not signing up for Obamacare, Fein said, so the program will have nothing but high costs from the elderly and sick, which is unsustainable.
“That in the industry is called the death spiral,” Fein said.
Fein said instead of a complete overhaul, what was needed was incremental change, such as including health savings accounts as an option and allowing the purchase of plans across state lines.
Changing health care in America means reforming a sixth of the country’s economy, Fein said.
“When you try to do big things, you get unintended consequences,” Fein said. “Comprehensive means too many things to keep track of.”
White said he finds it hard to support Obamacare because he wanted a single-payer option, meaning a public government-run system.
“I find myself defending something that is, at its core, conservative,” with the online market being an outlet for large private insurance companies, White said. “I do not think a profit motive is appropriate. … The purpose of health care is care, not money.”
But, White said, at least health care coverage is no longer tied to an employer, allowing people to make entrepreneurial risks.
Fein scoffed at this supposed benefit during Tuesday’s debate.
“Now the poor are going to go out and start businesses,” Fein said. “That is not going to happen. That has never happened.”
Fein told the debate audience Obamacare will transfer the wealth from the middle class to the poor.
“This will impoverish us in the name of being compassionate,” Fein said.
The debate continues
As far as political the outcomes of the Affordable Care Act, White said the GOP is making a short-term bet on the lives of the sick, hoping the spread of what he called “disinformation” about Obamacare’s failure will open up seats in Congress in 2014.
White added that there must be a “go-to-the-moon mentality” for America to rise to the challenge of fixing the broken system.
The non-cooperative attitude, with multiple attempts to repeal the legislation or defund the program, would take Americans back to paying for the uninsured to be treated in over-crowded emergency rooms, White said.
Fein and White have been debating one another through a podcast series entitled “Honestly Speaking: Red Meets Blue.” Other issues debated have included the recent government shutdown.
Tuesday’s free event was the first in a planned series called a “Marketplace of Ideas,” an exchange aimed at discussing popular and controversial social issues, like immigration reform and “big data” privacy.
KSU plans to present an event each semester, featuring guest speakers and culminating with a “Great Debate.”
KSU President Dan Papp told the more than 200 people in the auditorium on Tuesday night the event will help community members explore doubts and be exposed to ideas that might conflict with their “inner dialogue.”
Academia should provide a forum to speak out and express ideas freely, to help determine what is valid and what is true, Papp said.
“If we are doing our jobs as educators, none of us will accept the uninformed position or glib answer,” Papp said.