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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

SIDEBAR: UMass, Community Panel Suggests Solutions

A panel of UMass professors and community members spoke after Benz’s speech. Bill Walczak, CEO of the Codman Square Heath Center, noted how even people who are in the health care system can’t navigate it. “We have an insane system,” said Walczak, who was a student at UMass Boston and lived in Dorchester’s Savin Hill, and founded the health center in the mid-1970s. “So what you need is somebody who can provide you with that kind of information.”

Walczak rattled off some statistics: fifty-six percent of people in the community did not realize you could get health care even though you didn’t have health insurance. Forty percent of people in Dorchester and Lynn have some kind of issue with medical debt, and two-thirds of which say it prevents them from getting health care.

While the health center has done a good job attempting to fix the problem, “the reality is we’re only one generation into this,” he said. “It’s going to take another generation for people to truly understand the system, provided, of course, that we continue making progress in that system and providing access to people of limited means.”

The state’s recently-created health disparities commission will find out what many already know, said Walczak, adding that what will also be found is that the budgets of all the programs that help with the problems. “My only political remark here is that it is so irresponsible to call for additional tax cuts when we’re trying to deal with $3 billion dollars in cuts to the basic infrastructure of health, human services, education,” he said to applause.

From the College of Management, Kiran Verma, an accounting professor, brought income analysis to the table, and plugged for more cost-effective analyses.

“Although most disparity is usually defined by race and ethnicity, it can also involve biological, environmental, behavioral differences based on income and education,” she said. One way to eliminate the disparities is to foster community programs and train more bi-lingual practitioners, she added.

The panel also included Laurel Radwin, from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and William Robinson, from the Environmental, Coastal, and Ocean Sciences Department.