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Monday, November 9, 2009

Health care legislation: The day after

Just 15 hours after voting to pass health care reform legislation in Washington, Kathy Castor 88C was speaking to Emory alumni in Tampa.

This happy coincidence of scheduling added an additional layer of relevance (as if that was possible) to Sunday's Faculty Destinations: Tampa event, Why Health Reform Can't Wait (And You Can't Either), at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club.

Castor, a second-term Democrat whose district covers a large chunk of the Tampa Bay area, including the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, shared the stage with Arthur Kellermann 80M, associate dean for health policy and professor of emergency medicine. Less a victory lap for health care legislation she strongly supported than a measured explanation of its impact, Castor (who majored in political science at Emory) skillfully outlined the House's reform measures.

Kellermann, who has spent more than his fair share of hours in the ER of Grady Memorial Hospital, related real-world stories of patients who the current system has failed. And Kellermann's calls for reform were not necessarily in lock step with the bill passed by the U.S. House 220-215 on Saturday night. The need for reform, though, is without question, he said.

To be sure the country's health care debate is a passionate one (I know this first hand, having spoken with alumni whose iron-willed opinions fall on both sides of the political aisle), and Emory is fortunate to have such credible authorities contributing to it. And diverse ones, too.

The crowd on Sunday was by no means unanimous in support of the house bill. But they were unanimous in their civility. No outbursts anywhere. YouTube will be disappointed. But Emory can be proud.

The unfortunately-too-short Q&A was followed up by more than 45 minutes of post-event discussion which saw alumni literally lined up to speak to Castor and Kellermann, who worked overtime to chat with them.

It was a pretty great afternoon all around. Some 50 guests attended, which, on a Sunday in Tampa with the Buccaneers wearing their throwback creamsicle orange jerseys at home and beating the Packers for their first win of the season, is a great number ... you can understand why everyone was happy.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

Updated, Friday, November 13, 12:10 p.m.

Check out the EAA's Facebook fan page for photos from the event! -- ER

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