Boston - Boston teens will join the national debate over healthcare when they take up the issue at a City Hall forum tomorrow night, a day before a nationally televised debate on universal healthcare takes place at Faneuil Hall.
Sponsored by the Mayor’s Youth Council and the Boston Public Health Commission’s Boston Area Health Education Center (BAHEC), the forum is designed to spark teens’ interest in a topic that has taken on added significance because of the presidential race and in Massachusetts, where residents who can afford it are now required to have health insurance.
The forum will run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in Room 801 at One City Hall Square. Guests can enter on Congress Street.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to engage young people in Boston in the healthcare debate,’’ said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Public Health Commission. “These are issues that affect so many of our children and young people and it's important that their voices be heard.''
Four pairs of teens will square off in a series of mini-debates that will tackle whether:
- America has an obligation to provide healthcare to all of its citizens;
- The US government has a responsibility to provide coverage to undocumented workers;
- Public high schools should be required to offer health education, including physical education, to all students;
- All girls, ages 11-12, should be required to receive the vaccine that protects them against the most common forms of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Youth participating in the debates include representatives from Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), BAHEC, and Breach of Life Dorchester (B.O.L.D.) Teens.
Susan Dentzer, health correspondent for PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, will offer guidance to the teens before they begin the debates.
Dentzer will moderate the nationally televised debate on Americans’ fundamental right to healthcare and the government’s obligation to provide it at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at Faneuil Hall. That debate is sponsored by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in partnership with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.
Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Regina Herzlinger, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, will speak in favor of the government’s obligation to provide healthcare. Speaking against it will be Richard Armey, chairman of Freedom Works and former House Majority Leader in the US Congress, and Richard Epstein, professor of law at the University of Chicago.
In Massachusetts, there are an estimated 40,000 children without health insurance, according to Health Care for All. Nationally, nearly 20 percent of uninsured Americans – 8.7 million individuals – are children, the Institute of Medicine reported.