Students wary about new health care bill

Some St. Thomas students are wary of the universal health care bill that President Barack Obama is expected to sign as early as Tuesday.

House Democrats sent the legislation to Obama after a 219-212 vote Sunday. All 178 Republican lawmakers opposed the bill, as did 34 Democrats.

The bill establishes a 10-year, $938 billion program to extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans. The bill also outlines a plan to reduce deficits and prohibit insurance companies from charging more based on sex and denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.

Former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger, R-Minn., is the chair of the National Institute of Health Policy at St. Thomas. He said this bill could change health care at St. Thomas, especially in the long run when more opportunities are available to large employers and educational institutions.

“I am surprised and quite pleased by [the bill’s passing],” said Durenberger, who served in the Senate from 1978 to 1995 and spent three terms as a health policy expert.

“We will have access for the first time in a long time where people can make informed choices,” he said. “The biggest thing, however, for young people and others is that we are finally on the verge of changing the cost curve in health care.”

The bill addresses the lack of universal coverage by proposing American citizens purchase mandatory insurance. The money generated by the bill would go toward subsidies, which would help families with incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay for insurance premiums.

“I’m definitely not happy they passed it,” senior Zach Neugebauer said. “I think a lot of people in this country want health care reform, but I think the bill they passed is not what the people want. I am in favor of health care reform. I just wish that this bill wouldn’t have gone through.”

Neugebauer, who owns a small business, said the new bill will take away the incentive of a good health program he offers to his employees.

“I can’t afford to pay my employees maybe what bigger businesses can, but one of my big benefits was that I had a really good health program,” he said. “Well, now that that is going to be open to everyone, that’s no longer a bargaining trick I can use to attract good employees … that takes my incentive away to provide decent health care to my employees.”

Senior Adam Johannsen, who wants to be a doctor, agreed.

“I think our system’s essentially broken as it is and we need change but I don’t know if this is the best way to go about this change.”

Freshman Austin Kammerer doesn’t support the new bill either. Taxing affects his family because they make a high enough income to be considered “wealthy.”

“The bill costs a lot of money … and the main way to pay for it is taxing,” Kammerer said. “I don’t like it because of the repercussion it’ll have on my family, and people like my family.”

Ben Katzner and Stephani Bloomquist contributed to this report.

Ben Katzner can be reached at

88 Replies to “Students wary about new health care bill”

  1. Matthew,
    It sounds like you would rather live your life in a bubble than face the harsh reality of the everyday American. I implore you to find some compassion for your fellow man, otherwise you’ll receive none.
    Americanism is not the same thing as capitalism. Democracy is not the same thing as capitalism. I urge you to find in the constitution where it declares us capitalists. The concept of socialism is not far off from the ideals of equality of opportunity.
    Your messages are confusing to me because of the lack of relevance the bill itself. Is affordable insurance “charity” as you so disdainfully name it?
    If you believe that people who use these necessary programs are enjoying every minute of it and lazing around, you are quite simply living in a fantasy world.

  2. Plese-Jeeze man…you are not making a good case. Even if that is what you feel, rule number one of making a point is to never write off the impoverished! Blissenbach- The US Bishops did address concerns with it. I think this is rather minor though, but he is right. Overall, I feel that I am in the middle…like the rest of America. I am not fully edcated on this topic, and I can see the pros and cons. I am all for making sure people have healthcare, but at this time, we just dont have the money! Taxing the upper class is not enough! This is a really huge deal, and I believe that all taxes should be raised! We have massive amounts of debt, we spend more then we take in, and in the end this will end badly. Can anybody say hyperinflation? We owe China billions of dollars! When they make some big mistake with their economy or something, they are going to want some money. Either we give it to them or not. If we do, we just print off a whole bunch of one’s,put it in a 747, throw in some 500’s from Monopoly and hope to God that they dont realize that they only have a million. I dont want Vinny knockin on the White House door lookin to break thumbs! But seriously, if we do then its hyperinflation, if we dont then we look bad and have interntional conflict.

  3. Matthew,

    The ignorance you are exhibiting is simply beyond my comprehension.  Have you ever tried to support yourself on minimum wage?  Have you ever actually experienced what it’s like to be poor?  I’m going to guess no.  Has it ever crossed your mind that these people may simply be in a position where they cannot get out of poverty?  College is not an option to a person who has no money to afford it and has no credit to get a loan.  It is our duty as fellow humans to help those who try their hardest but simply cannot help themselves completely.  You have obviously been blessed with a life where your needs are met.  I have too, as have many people at St. Thomas.  However, this in no way entitles us to scoff at those who were not so fortunate.

    “A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.”  That is the definition of socialism.  I do not see any of the aforementioned programs as fulfilling this definition.  Before you make ignorant, unfounded claims, do your research.

  4. Ohhh I see. So someone who can’t read can definitely find their way around a library, right? And if they sit at a computer, they’ll be able to navigate the internet. You’re right. Why don’t we all just pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, huh? Easy enough, right?

    It’s so sad how utterly ungrateful you are for the life you’ve lived. A life that is a rarity. Look around, Mr Plese. Our world is suffering. And you think it’s because people just aren’t trying hard enough? You need a reality check.

    Read a newspaper, Mr. Plese. Your ignorance is offensive. And so blatantly inaccurate, it’s difficult to even respond to.

    Your comments are uneducated and based on your personal opinions, not reality. As someone who has assisted individuals in applying for welfare and medical assistance, I can guarantee you that the statements you make are ridden with error. Have you even taken the time to step into the systems to denounce?

    I hope for your sake you never have to face the harsh realities of poverty in America. Although I fear that’s the only thing that could truly remove the blindfold you have over your eyes. Despite the gift of education you have been given, you have neglected to use it for the betterment of the society we ALL live in. What a waste.

  5. I would just like to say that whether or not you agree with the provisions of the bill, you have to admit its quite the feat. This is the largest social reform in the past 40 years, and given the track record of Congress and Executive branches lately, I think we should all at least applaud the fact that something is being done in DC. And if y’all are feeling so worked up about it, maybe you should write your congressional leader instead of wasting time demeaning each other’s values. Or use the time to just research such topics and become a responsible citizen before making such rhetorical statements that our government leaders love to use; quite successfully might I add given more than a few of the above comments. .

  6. Matthew- The notion that those who are poor don’t work hard (and the other side of the coin is that those who are not poor do work hard) doesn’t reflect the reality of everyone who is poor. What about Hmong refugees in our own community (who are refugees because Hmong fought alongside our soldiers, but then we left) but don’t speak english well enough to get well paying jobs? Or don’t speak english at all, and can’t find work until they learn? Or how about my neighborhood, in which property values fell since I-94 was built through it, yet property values on the other side of the highway rose, because there was a barrier between “us” and “them”? (And these highways that were built through primarily black communities are across the nation.) Or how about peole with disabilities? Or how about me, who got her first job working for her Dad. And her second job, because her mom’s friend already worked for the company. Or who’s more likely to get hired over an equally qualified competitor of color, purely because I’m white. The thing is, some people work hard, some people don’t- but largely, our economic situations are influenced by things other than our work ethic.

  7. Stefan Wolf, I am not “scoffing” at those in worse economic conditions. I am just saying that it is not my responsibility to provide for them. I should not be forced to pay higher taxes for their healthcare.

  8. Upon reflection of this debate, I feel that Washington needs to think outside of the box in order to permanently fix health care. I propose the Don’t Get Sick Act. If you get sick, you go to jail. Problem solved.

  9. I think Chesterton and Belloc are right. Capitalism and socialism are both fundamentally flawed. Read Chesterton’s book “What’s Wrong With The World” if you want to know more about why they’re both fundamentally flawed.

  10. @Matthew: “Answer: simple. We have public libraries that have computer access. They can go there.” What is this socialist idea Matthew? Public libraries? Why should I have to pay taxes to my government to fund public libraries? I’ve spent my whole life working hard to support myself and my family. I have saved up money and spent wads of dollars at Barnes and Noble and Amazon to build my collection of books to a respectable level and now you tell me that the government is going to take money from me to provide these same books for free to people who haven’t worked as hard as me. Making me give them a hand-out is a disservice to them since it gives them no incentive to work harder. And it is a disservice to me since it does not motivate me to continue working harder and taking risks in the free market. Public libraries are socialism incarnate! Free books are not a basic right. People should not have the ability to waltz in and check out Harry Potter whenever they feel like it. I am just saying that it is not my responsibility to provide for them. I should not be forced to pay higher taxes for their reading pleasure.

    So Matthew, bring your socialist agenda elsewhere and let me read in peace.

    Good day sir!

  11. Joe, I know that you say that in jist but you have a point. I shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support someone else’s reading. If I want to read something, I should have to pay for it myself. Good point.

    Let’s ask Congress to stop funding to libraries.

  12. Well, this conversation has certainly spiraled out of control since I last saw it.

    I think people glanced over what Mr. Hackworthy said: this is some sort of effort. While that is certainly not a justification for all the facets of the reform, it is still something. For too long politicians have been fumbling with this issue while Americans have sought reform. Congress has been paralyzed by gridlock for about four years now, and finally we are seeing something happening.

    Certainly, the bill is imperfect. That is why there is a reconciliation bill ready to be passed. This is just the start of something. Just like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one major step toward racial and ethnic equality, there is still plenty of work to be done in that respect.

    The real problem is that Americans (and yes, UST students too) are uninformed. I don’t claim to know everything about the bill, but here is a nice, concise summary: The ballot box this November will serve as a referendum, probably on this issue. Let’s just hope voters have their facts correct and are not spewing useless one-liners, slogans, or talking points. Trust me, I heard the word socialism one too many times. Frankly, this is not socialism…

  13. I challenge anyone to look up the word “socialism” and try to ascribe it to this bill. It’s not that. If you don’t have access to a dictionary, your local library would have one.

    We must be very careful, as a society, how we evaluate complicated issues. Health care cannot be summed up in a few words, nor can cyclical poverty. I challenge everyone at UST, not just those of us on this forum, to raise the tenor of this debate. It will be a lot more productive if we stop throwing around simplistic ideas because this issue is anything but simple.

  14. Mr. Plese, I believe that you and the other commenters would agree that one shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support others. Personally, I would enjoy it if everyone was able to pay for everything out-of-pocket and that the government maintained a surplus in the trillions. What is your point? I sincerely hope there is a deeper interpretation of your comments that precludes the understanding that you are an “ungrateful,” “ignorant,” and “selfish” person as others have called you.
    To address your comments: your logic is non-existent. You (and your family) have enjoyed the benefits provided by the government to reach whatever level of success you currently hold. Since you feel the health care law forces you to pay more taxes, that puts you in the same tax bracket that Bush provided cuts for not too long ago(through reconciliation by the way). Which means you benefited from the same democratic process that is now in favor of helping others and you have the audacity to argue against it over what exactly? The laws of capitalism? Socialist similarities? There is no feasible way anyone in this country would be where they are without any governmental assisstance and it does not make sense to refuse such assisstance to others on such ridiculous notions.

  15. Some people claim that its not their job to help those who are poor, well, thats right.
    But at the sametime, you didn’t get where you are without other people’s help. America was built on both slavery and genocide, and I know its coming out of history, but so do all of us. Those who got rich off the original America still enjoy those benefits, or should I say their children, same goes for the offspring of the slaves and victims of genocide. Where do you think these people are going to start when they have nothing? This is where we all have to come in and help these people get on their feet. We should hand feed them, create the environment that helps get up. Healthcare is one way, because this a right and not a priviledge. Mr. Plese, am sorry to hear someone like you express such uninformed views towards other people.
    For those that are against gov’t controlling this, what do you say about roads, Social security and education? Is it my job to pay for someone’s kid to go to school thru taxation, NO, but I do it. How about the people who don’t own cars, they still pay taxes for the roads too. Why does the gov’t force you to save for the future? All these are not unconstitutional because you directly gain, right? Lets all remember that the constitution changes with the…

  16. My views remain clear – the government can not force individuals to purchase health insurance. The government is not in the business and does not have the power to force people to live healthy lives.

    Health care is not a basic human right – it is a privilege.

  17. The government requieres you to buy car insurance if you drive. It requires you to have a savings plan if you work. Everyone engages in the healthcare industry at some point- seeking treatment when you get sick, getting vaccines required to attend school, legal right to emergency treatment, Medicare, etc. Just like the government can require you to buy car insurance to protect those you might hit, why couldn’t it require you to buy health insurance to protect those who your health impacts (i.e those who pay taxes that contribute to Medicare, hospitals in the case you might not be able to cover your bills, etc.)?

  18. “Health care is not a basic human right – it is a privilege.”

    I disagree, I think that basic healthcare is a basic human right, but you can go about providing basic healthcare for the poor in different ways. I would tend to favor grants from the federal government to each state, based on the number of uninsured citizens living in the particular state, to come up with a system to provide basic healthcare for those uninsured citizens. Such a system would be more compatible with the principle of subsidiarity, which is one of the foundations of Catholic social teaching, outlined in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum”.
    Similarly, I would be in favor of replacing social security with tax credits or subsidies to the caregiver of each elderly person. Such a system would favor the children or close friend or relative of each elderly person providing care and shelter for them, and I think such a system would be more family-centered rather than the individual-centered Social Security program .
    I also think that Medicare should cover at-home hospice care if a senior citizen would prefer that to going to a hospital or nursing home, so that they can stay with their family rather than being forced to spend their last days in a nursing home or hospital.

  19. I also think that the Democrats and the GOP are both equally corrupt and that neither party works for or legislates what’s best for America’s families or what’s best for American society. I end up voting for whichever candidate I feel would do less damage to the country’s moral fabric.

  20. “Just like the government can require you to buy car insurance to protect those you might hit, why couldn’t it require you to buy health insurance to protect those who your health impacts.” Kathryn, there is a fundamental difference between car insurance and health insurance. You are only legally required to have enough car insurance to protect the OTHER party. The government requires you to have insurance to cover the other individuals’ injuries and damages. With health insurance, the government is forcing you to care for yourself. It is legalizating health and wellness. Such a policy is illegal – it interferes with basic human rights and liberties. Don’t think that I am a Republican as I am in neither party. I stand for basic rights for individuals to live each live his/her own life as that person sees fit. For that reason, I stand proudly with the Democrats on social issues and proudly with the Respublicans on matters of fiscal policty.

  21. “For that reason, I stand proudly with the Democrats on social issues and proudly with the Republicans on matters of fiscal policy”

    I’m conservative on most social issues (except capital punishment, the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and environmental policy) and center-left on fiscal issues (although I don’t agree with deficit spending).

  22. “For that reason, I stand proudly with the Democrats on social issues and proudly with the Republicans on matters of fiscal policy.”

    So you’re a libertarian, then? You would probably like Michael Bloomberg and Ron Paul.

  23. Matthew- that’s actually my point about protecting other people. Say you don’t have health insurance, you get seriously injured, a hospital treats you, you can’t pay your bill back. The hospital then is out a lot of money. That cost gets passed on to other patients through higher prices, or to tax paying citizens if it’s a public hospital. You having health insurance protects me from having to pay more in the case that you can’t pay your bills. Likewise, it protects tax payers from having to make up for increased Medicare costs in the case that someone previously without health insurance, hasn’t been getting the treatment they should have, and now has higher medical costs.

  24. Kathryn – Here is a better solution: If someone does not have insurance and does not have the money to pay for a hospital, we don’t treat them. That saves us money and does not force any of us to purchase insurance or pay higher taxes. You might think this is too harsh, but think about it this way: do grocery stores give food away if you are hungry and don’t have the money? no. Do universities give you classes for free if you are poor and can’t pay for your classes? no. Let’s stop pretending that health care should be a charity because it isn’t; it is a billion dollar industry with the purpose of making money.

  25. Matthew, there are a couple things here… but here’s a hypothetical situation. Say you witness a shooting. You call 911 and ask that they send paramedics. The dispatcher asks you if the victim has health insurance. You go to ask the victim, but they’re unconscious. You tell the dispatcher this. The dispatcher responds, “Sorry! We only treat people who have health insurance.” Are you really ok with that?

    You’re right that in this country health insurance is a business, but it’s also not just a business. If it were just a business, no one would purchase health insurance– why spend money on premiums then? Everyone would just pay out of pocket.

    The fact is that health insurance is a sort of social contract. We pay in, knowing there’s a possibility we might someday face medical expenses that exceed our resources. We also might not, but we pay in anyway; if you get sick and can’t pay for it, the money the rest of us have paid insurance companies covers it, and vice versa. You don’t just get back what you put in; but we all agree to share the cost in return for financial protection in case we need it.

  26. “Kathryn – Here is a better solution: If someone does not have insurance and does not have the money to pay for a hospital, we don’t treat them. ”
    That’s immoral and that smacks of social darwinism.

    “do grocery stores give food away if you are hungry and don’t have the money? no” Actually, some do. Money doesn’t rule the world, that’s God’s domain.

  27. Matthew, I agree with you that forced redistribution of wealth destroys charity, and I agree with you that the government should not have the power to force people to purchase something they don’t want to buy. However, I think that unregulated laissez-faire capitalism is just as dangerous as the socialism that President Obama is advocating. Capitalism is centered around the individual, and socialism is centered around the community, and I think both extremes are dangerous. What I would support is something called distributism, which is centered around the family and based off of Pope Leo XIII’s encylical “Rerum Novarum”. G.K. Chesterton’s critique of capitalism is that the problem with it is that there aren’t too many capitalists, but too few, because property ownership gets concentrated in large corporations.
    Chesterton lays out what distributism is in his book “What’s Wrong With The World”. You can read more about distributism here:, and here: Enjoy!

  28. Mr. Plese, it’s clear from reading this thread of comments that there are significant disparities in regards to the facts that surround the concept of poverty and your personal opinions. I’d like to invite everyone, but you in particular, to an event that I and some other students are organizing.

    Beta Epsilon is the UST/SCU chapter of Phi Alpha– the national social work honors society. We have created an event called “End Poverty: Stand Up for Your Community”. We are hosting a presentation and experiential learning opportunity from ‘A Minnesota Without Poverty’.

    It will be held on April 15th from 6:30-8:30 in the Carondelet Center, on the St. Kate’s campus. This event is co-sponsored by the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Caroldelet and Consociates.

    The event will feature live music, local and student poets, and refreshments.

    It would be great to have you there, Mr. Plese. I would look forward to meeting you and having an accurate discussion on the realities of poverty… including dialogue about how to eliminate it. I know you have some proposals of your own.

  29. Furthermore, this event is great opportunity for ANYONE to educate themselves about poverty. My hope is that we can use this educational arena to expand our knowledge about the realities of poverty so we can work TOGETHER to find solutions to the significantly complex and devastating challenges our country (and our world) is facing. These challenges simply cannot be denied or ignored. And that is something we all agree on.

    If you would like more information on this event, please feel free to contact me at

  30. Ms. Ross, while I think we should work to alleviate poverty as much as possible, I think it is impossible to eliminate poverty. Christ himself says right in the Gospels that “the poor you will always have with you”. Matthew 26:11. It’s noble to do the best we can to alleviate poverty and suffering, but we will never be able to eliminate either of them.

  31. Michael, the non-profit organization we are working with, “A Minnesota Without Poverty”, has a tag-line that says they will “seek to eliminate poverty by 2020”. That’s where my statement comes from. One of the reasons I have dedicated myself to the field I am in, is because I will always STRIVE to eliminate injustice, however possible. You are certainly right, it will not be eliminated. But many use that saying and that mind-set to represent the previously stated concept.

    Again, this is an educational opportunity. It’s not a debate or a forum for opinions. It would be great to have you there. I’m sure you would be able to contribute actively to our discussions.

  32. Emily,
    Though your points may be valid, their presentation needs some work. The use of buzzwords alone is annoying, but insisting on capitalizing them is just redundant.

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