Public Health

Health care reform, Foard Lecture and new logo

April 15, 2008

Health care reform

(April 14) Tonight, Dr. Jon Oberlander, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health, and Associate Professor of Social Medicine, School of Medicine, will give the Foard Lecture, our school’s most prestigious lecture. It’s really exciting that nearly 500 people haveunc_foard-lecture-program2.jpg registered for the event. Jon will focus on health care reform and the presidential campaigns. This is exactly the kind of forum our school should be hosting. Health care reform is a highly contentious issue yet one Americans care deeply about. Just today, a New York Times article detailed changes in insurance policies that have resulted in higher payments by consumers for drugs. Since some of these drugs are life-saving but very expensive, it means that even people with insurance now are experiencing skyrocketing costs of health care. While the poor and near-poor are especially disadvantaged by the health care crisis, no one is immune from its consequences.

It’s almost inconceivable that 36 years ago, when I was getting my MPH in Medical Care Organization and Health Education at the University of Michigan, we memorized key components of various health insurance bills before Congress (I believe there were more than 12 at the time.). The mantra was, “not if but when.” I doubt any of our professors would have predicted that we’d still be talking 36 years later.

It’s important to me that our school foster productive dialogue, perform relevant policy analyses, teach our students about the issues, conduct demonstrations that might lead to tested components of a program and advise candidates and other influentials. Obviously, it’s the details that matter. Any plan must address topics like quality of care, access and provide incentives for prevention. I look forward to hearing what Jon Oberlander has to say about the issues. He authored two very thoughtful New England Journal of Medicine articles on these issues last fall. (Article 1, Article 2)

Surely, in this country, we can find a way to balance competing interests and finally declare access to health care a right not a privilege. It’s what professors like Sy Axelrod, Roy Penchansky and Avedis Donabedian taught me, and I still believe it.

New logo

I want to share with you the new version of our logo that the School will adopt in September 2008. Some people think we are dropping “UNC” from our name – nothing could be farther from the truth, for many reasons! I hope that sharing the new logo will ease some people’s minds and show that UNC still is very much a part of our name. (I realize some people still will not be comfortable.) While we may be adding two words to our name, our mission remains the same – to improve public health, promote individual well-being, and eliminate health disparities across North Carolina and around the world.


Happy Monday! Best, Barbara

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The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.