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Advocate discusses health care mandate


By Joe Weber

Local physician and healthcare advocate Rob Stone spoke Tuesday night on the upcoming Medicaid mandate being debated in Indiana General Assembly.

The event marked the IU College Democrats’ first speaker event of the year.

“We’ve been trying to keep the focus this semester on things that are actually happening now so we can take action and advocate,” said Aaron Dy, president. “There are going to be actions in Indiana and across the country in this next year to decide how our health care plans are implemented and how they’re going to function in the future.”

The organization’s vice president Cassady Palmer emphasized that during election years, the organization receives substantially more student involvement than an average year. In order to draw enthusiasm and participation, the club brought in Stone, a well-known local and national critic of the current U.S health care system.

“The club has two phases: election year and everything else,” Palmer said. “Since we’re transitioning back into that ‘everything else’ phase, we wanted to hit it off with a bang.”

Stone is the director and founder of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, an organization of Indiana residents who support a publicly financed and privately delivered health care plan, as well as the Indiana state director for Physicians for a National Health Program.

He currently serves as the director of the IU Health Bloomington Hospital Palliative care unit.

“Indiana is facing a choice of whether to participate in the Medicaid expansion,” Stone said. “This is a deal too good to refuse.”

Stone presented facts and statistics comparing the U.S healthcare system to other countries, as well as specific details of the current Medicaid expansion offered by the Affordable Care Act. He stressed statistics from the Indiana Hospital Association and U.S. census that showed Americans spending substantially more for healthcare and medicare than other countries, even though the U.S. remains behind in average life expectancy and high in deaths from preventable diseases.

“We spend a whole lot on health care,” Stone said. “And what are we getting for it? Not much.”

Stone did not express total support for the Affordable Care Act, emphasizing that he is both a critic and advocate of the law.

“I’ve got problems with the act and things that I think are really good about it,” Stone said.

He also encouraged the crowd to call their local state representatives, educate themselves more about the issue and spread the word to friends and family.

“Right now our big focus is drawing interest and getting people to see that just because it’s not an election year does not mean there is nothing to do,” Palmer said.
“I think with in this economy, a lot of people don’t look at the importance of health care reform or even know exactly what it means.”

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