Miller Center's Latest Debate: Should Government Provide Health Care?

March 20, 2008 — On Wednesday, April 9 at 7 p.m., the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in partnership with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, will hold the fourth event of its National Discussion and Debate Series. In Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, four participants will argue the proposed resolution: "Americans have a fundamental right to health care and it is the obligation of government to secure that right."
Susan Dentzer, health correspondent for PBS's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," will moderate. Supporting the resolution are:

• JudyAnn Bigby, M.D., secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

• Regina Herzlinger, Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration Chair, Harvard Business School

Opposing are:

• Richard K. Armey, chairman, FreedomWorks, and former U.S. House Majority Leader (1995-2003)

• Richard A. Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

A "white paper" (available at lays out the major issues of the debate over health care as a right. Its authors are Arthur Garson, Jr., executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia and former dean of the U.Va. School of Medicine; and Carolyn L. Engelhard, assistant professor of medical education and health policy analyst at U.Va.'s School of Medicine.

Garson and Engelhard looked at the goals, realities, and frustrations of the issue in an excellent Miller Center Forum on March 10 (also available online at the address above).
More information, including biographies of the debaters, research, lesson plans, news, audio, and video, is available online at  
The debate, the fourth in a series of five taking place during the 2007-08 academic year, will be webcast live and archived, along with the transcript, on the Miller Center's Web site ( It will be broadcast on PBS analog and digital channels nationwide (check local listings for details). The conversation has already started online, via interactive group pages on YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Google and Yahoo.
The National Discussion and Debate Series, the Miller Center's newest initiative, is addressing major issues facing the United States. It aims to examine these issues in depth, and to contribute to the national conversation with a genuine, thoughtful give-and-take that will both enlighten people and provoke dialogue. 
The first debate, on keeping American troops in Iraq, took place on Sept. 18 in the historic Dome Room of the University of Virginia's Rotunda. The second, on privacy and national security, occurred on Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C.  The third, on religion and public life, took place on March 6 in Richmond, Va. The final debate, on immigration, will take place on May 15 in New York. 
Video and transcripts are archived online:
Founded in 1975, the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs is a leading nonpartisan public policy institution that aims to fulfill Jefferson's public service mission by serving as a national meeting place for engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and government officials to research, reflect, and report on issues of national importance to the governance of the United States, with special attention to the central role and history of the presidency.