The federal Affordable Care Act affects—and confuses—many Americans, so health care management students at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud (MSB) decided to shine a light of awareness on the subject by inviting a panel of experts to campus to discuss the issue publicly.
Students gathered the panel on campus to speak to students, staff and the general public on the Affordable Care Act and to answer audience questions. The panelists were:
Minnesota State Senator John Pederson, representing District 14 and owner of Amcon Precast, Inc.
Attorney Thomas Lopez, Rinke Noonan in St. Cloud, Minn., and MNSure Board of Directors on the Consumer and Small Employer Advisory Committee
Senior Outreach Analyst for MNSure, Mario Vargas, St. Paul, Minn.
Optometrist Dr. Tom Johnson and owner of Infinite Eye Care in Sauk Rapids, Minn.
Business Manager Randene Tapio at Interventional Spine and Pain Physicians, St. Cloud
Sales Manager David Sorum at Bankers Life and Casualty, St. Cloud
Tri-County Insurance Owner/Agent Jim Trewick, Sauk Rapids
“People hear conflicting reports of what they can and can’t do,” explains Health Care Management Program Chair Deb Berglund. “They are worried about their insurance and the possible penalties. I felt this was the perfect chance for my students to plan an event that would bring the experts and the community together.”
“One of the main objectives of the Case Studies in Health Care Management class is for students to develop skills related to strategic planning,” she adds. “The students were able to develop this skill and help the community at the same time.”
Health care management student, Jacob Jackson, agrees that strategic planning, resource and leadership skills were all needed to carry off the event.
“The greatest value offered by the event was definitely the opportunity for the public to interact and question the different professionals that make the parts of health care reform work,” Jackson said. “All the professionals are dynamic members of their organizations, so it was really a privilege to work with all of them.”
Classmate Jennifer Ness also feels that it was valuable to offer people in the community the opportunity to ask questions about the new health insurance reform law. In addition, she learned lessons outside of the issue itself.
“I learned a lot about how difficult it can be to contact people and get a response from them in a timely manner, especially when you are asking them to give their time,” Ness said. “The greatest challenge was finding people to give us a commitment that they would participate.”
“Our goal was to have five panel members,” Ness noted, “and we ended up with seven, so that was great!”
As for the panelists, they agreed that the evening was time well spent.
Senator Pederson thanked MSB and remarked, “You are doing a good job . . . to talk about the issue. We still don’t know the details. People—business owners—have uncertainty and we can learn from this.”
Thomas Lopez remarked, “These were all valid questions. It helps to clarify.”
Audience members and participants alike went home better informed on the issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act.