McGeorge School of Law

Reid Reflects on Ethics of Healthcare Coverage

March 2, 2012

Ethics of Healthcare

Professor Leslie Jacobs and Professor Paul Paton with T.R. Reid.

The annual McGeorge Ethics Across the Professions Initiative symposium featured best-selling author T.R. Reid, who spoke on "The Ethics of Healthcare in Global Perspective," on March 2 to an audience of 160 in the law school's lecture hall.

Professor Leslie Jacobs, the director of McGeorge's Capital Center for Law & Policy, followed Reid's lecture with an overview of the constitutional challenge to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Professor Paul Paton, the director of the Ethics Across the Professions Initiative, introduced Reid and moderated a lively question-and-answer session with the audience.

A longtime Washington Post correspondent and former chief of the newspaper's Tokyo and London bureaus, Reid is best known for his 2009 book, The Healing of America, which argues that the other industrialized democracies have achieved something the United States can't seem to do: provide healthcare for everybody at a reasonable cost. A frequent NPR and PBS commentator, his television documentary, "U.S. Health Care: The Good News," debuted on national TV the night before Reid's appearance in Sacramento.

Reid spoke about his lengthy study — through personal experience and statistical analysis — of other healthcare systems. A strong universal healthcare advocate, he argues that the issue is an ethical one: Is healthcare a human right? It's counterintuitive, he claims, but real universal healthcare can cost less long-term for all Americans. He also expressed concerns about "flaws" in the Affordable Care Act and questioned its viability and implementation. Reid infused his insights with a mixture of humor that made for an entertaining, civil discussion instead of the politically polarizing one taking place in much of the country.

Professor Jacobs, who authored a recent in-depth Sacramento Bee op-ed on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, has studied the issue for the past two years. She explained the complex questions that will confront the Supreme Court of the United States at the end this month when it hears oral argument on efforts to strike down the law. Jacobs outlined several directions in which a decision might go, including an inconclusive one.

The Ethics Across the Professions symposium series is sponsored in part by the Sierra Health Foundation.