May 09, 2007

Health Policy Institute set for May 18 at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE — Some of the nation’s leading health care experts will discuss the many issues surrounding uncompensated health care for the uninsured and underinsured next week at the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

“Access to Care: Who Pays for Health Care for the Uninsured and Underinsured,” is the topic of a daylong symposium, Friday, May 18, at the ninth annual SIH/SIU Health Policy Institute.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend any of the sessions. To schedule a specific presenter for an interview, contact Alicia Ruiz at the law school at 618/536-7711.


Registration ranges from $25 to $50, with continuing education credit available. Pre-registration is suggested, and forms are available online at The program should appeal to healthcare providers, payers, policymakers, physicians, human resource professionals, attorneys and consumer advocates.

“I hope people take away some understanding of the complexity and difficulty of the problem policy makers have flailed around for decades now, trying to address different facets of the health care coverage problem,” said Marshall B. Kapp, law professor and co-director of the Center for Health Law and Policy, which is part of the law school.

There is no one simple solution, apart from unlimited financial and material resources — which is not one of the options, he said.

“We’re going to lay out some of the alternatives along the continuum of government and market-place approaches,” he said. “But mainly what I think people are going to walk away with is a better understanding of the complexities involved.”

Southern Illinois Healthcare, the SIU School of Medicine, the law school’s Center for Health Law and Policy, and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute are program sponsors.

Among the featured presenters from academic and health policy backgrounds is Christie Hager, chief health counsel to Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DeMasi; Massachusetts is considered among the leaders in health care reform. Dr. David Himmelstein of Harvard Medical School, one of the nation’s leading advocates for a government-run health care system, is also among the presenters.

In addition, Michael Murphy, government affairs director for Unicare, and Dr. Nina Lubin-Johnson, members of the Illinois Adequate Health Care Task Force, are the featured luncheon speakers. Murphy and Lubin-Johnson were members of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s Illinois Adequate Health Care Task Force, and they will provide perspective on potential reforms under consideration in Springfield, said W. Eugene Basanta, law professor and center co-director.

Lubin-Johnson is a graduate of the SIU School of Medicine. She is on the National Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, and chairs the organization’s finance committee.

There are approximately 46 million people in the United States without insurance. Modern countries are all facing issues about their respective health care systems, Basanta said.

“There are challenges in every health care system, and they are not dissimilar with the challenges we face — including costs and access,” he said.

Another session looks at federal and state initiatives to leverage tax-exempt status of not-for-profit hospitals, and if that is threatening their abilities to serve the public. Increasingly, state governments are using the tax-exempt status of not-for-profit hospitals as a mechanism to push them to providing more and more uncompensated charity care by threatening to terminate a hospital’s tax-exempt status, Basanta said.

The Journal of Legal Medicine’s annual symposium issue, due out in March 2008, will include the health policy institute’s papers.

The event schedule is:

  • 9 a.m. — Welcome and introductions. Law school Dean Peter C. Alexander and Dr. Thomas J. Firestone, president, Southern Illinois Healthcare.

Morning moderator: Marshall B. Kapp, Garwin Distinguished Professor of Law and Medicine, professor of Medical Humanities, co-director, Center for Health Law and Policy, SIU School of Law.

  • 9:15 a.m. — “Massachusetts Health Reform: A Model of Shared Responsibility.” Christie Hager, chief health counsel, office of the speaker of the Massachusetts House.
  • 10:30 a.m. — “The Do-It-Yourself Solution: Consumer-driven Health Care for the Uninsured,” Timothy Jost, Robert L. Willett Family Professorship of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law.
  • 11:30 a.m. — Members of Illinois’ Adequate Healthcare Task Force. Dr. Niva Lubin-Johnson and Michael Murphy, government affairs director, Unicare.

Afternoon moderator: W. Eugene Basanta, Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law, professor of medical humanities, co-director, Center for Health Law and Policy, SIU School of Law.

  • 1 p.m. — “Should Access to Care Rest on Charity Care: Federal and State Initiatives to Leverage Tax-Exempt Status,” Lawrence Singer, director, Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy, Loyola University of Chicago.
  • 2 p.m. — “Health Care Reform: A Medical Emergency.” Dr. David Himmelstein, associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School.