ASU grad to take part in Pat's Run – in Washington, D.C.

March 31, 2010

When the starting gun is fired for the Sixth Annual Pat's Run at 7 a.m., April 17, Matt Cicinelli will be off to the race.

But it will be 10 a.m., and Cicinelli will be in Washington, D.C., with a group of East Coast runners, all committed to the same cause: raising funds for the Tillman scholars program. Download Full Image

"We do a shadow run in D.C., for folks who want to run the race but can't get to Tempe," Cicinelli said. "We have a barbecue afterwards."

Cicinelli, who now works for IBM in Washington, consulting for the government, was in the third class of Tillman Scholars (2007-2008) and now is an avid supporter of the Tillman Foundation and Scholar program.

Cicinelli ran the New York City Marathon two years ago as a member of Team Tillman, and had planned to participate in the March 20 National Marathon in Washington in support of the cause.

"I was supposed to run, but I got injured," he said.

However, another Tillman Scholar – Anton Hoffman, a Military Scholar – did run in the race.

Cicinelli, who graduated from the W. P. Carey School of Business in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in finance and economics, said he learned about the Tillman Foundation and Scholars program, which focuses on personal development, everyday leadership and social action, when he was a student at ASU.

"It was a different kind of leadership program," he said. "I liked the way we looked at the world through the program. It was more of an open discussion. It was personal in that way. It was a 'Think about it, then shut up and get out there and get your hands dirty' type of program.

"It was a discussion about happenings in the world, an interesting look at what was going on in the world and how people were impacting change in their community, and how people were taking steps to follow whatever issues they saw that needed to be addressed. It was eye opening to see what was going on and hear discussions."

What issues has Cicinelli found that challenge him?

He's committed to student development, and the well-being of children, he said, "helping people who are in school figure out what they want to do and how they're going to get there - things that are important but aren't explicitly taught."

He also believes young people just need to be offered opportunities so they can thrive and excel, and has worked with an organization in Washington that "focuses on kids from a disadvantaged neighborhood in town, with such programs as tutoring."

Cicinelli, a native of Tempe, said he was privileged to meet Pat Tillman in person, and now is committed to upholding the ideals of the former ASU football star and serviceman who gave his life for his country.

When the Pat’s Race runners are finishing the race by crossing the 42-yard line at Sun Devil Stadium (honoring the number 42 jersey that Tillman wore as an ASU player), Cicinelli will be coasting to a stop in East Potomac Park – at the 42-yard line at least in spirit.

ASU experts weigh pros and cons of health care reform act

March 31, 2010

Many Americans are asking how they will really be affected by the new health insurance legislation. How will coverage change, and how much will it cost? Two nationally recognized health care experts are weighing in with a breakdown of the pros and cons.

“It’s difficult to predict the specific out-of-pocket costs for the average person who already has employer-provided health coverage,” said Marjorie Baldwin of the" target="_blank">W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “However, we’ll definitely pay more for health care, either in taxes or outright for the services because we have to subsidize the health care of more people. It will also cost way more than (the $938 billion) anticipated.” Download Full Image

Baldwin is a renowned health economist who participated with other health care experts in conference calls held by the official White House Health Reform Task Force over the summer. She has written dozens of health care articles.

“I think the individual mandate contained in this legislation, requiring everyone to have insurance, is needed so the costs of emergency care for uninsured people aren’t passed on to all of us,” Baldwin said. “However, the penalties for not purchasing insurance in the legislation are not high enough to motivate people to get coverage. The monetary penalties don’t even come close to what the insurance itself would cost.”

The legislation was designed to expand health insurance coverage to all Americans, and it will include the expansion of Medicaid to cover many more low-income citizens than it previously did. The act will also place limits on how much insurers can spend on administrative costs and profits.

W. P. Carey School of Business professor Eugene Schneller believes this health care reform measure is long overdue. He is director of the Health Sector Supply Chain Research Consortium, a group of health care organizations researching how to improve the performance of hospitals and streamline health care costs. But this is about more than money to Schneller because it affects real people and the companies for which they work.

“For people with illnesses and preexisting conditions, who have been bounced around in the current system, this will give them a sense of stability that people in many other countries already have, that they will always have health care,” Schneller said. “For people who currently have insurance, in the short term, this is a neutral thing. Employers aren’t going to knee-jerk and make changes right away. Large companies will probably stick with similar plans, but some small businesses will have to start weighing whether they want to get out of the ‘benefits business’ and just let employees get the new federally subsidized coverage.”

Baldwin and Schneller agree there will be many unintended consequences of the legislation as consumers, insurers and providers respond to its provisions. They believe some form of rationing will happen in order to serve the huge volume of people receiving new coverage.

“Some people will have concerns about rationing of treatment because of more demand on the system,” Schneller said. “Plans might not be as robust in terms of the kinds of treatment available, and also physicians and hospitals, facing lower levels of reimbursement, may make choices based on that. For example, a doctor might order a CT-scan rather than an MRI, which costs more and currently results in more money paid to the health care provider. But was the MRI really necessary to begin with – and which scan is more appropriate?”

Schneller also believes there will be a bigger load on primary care doctors, who may be required to write more referrals for specialists. He believes more community health centers will pop up to provide greater access to care for those who now have no usual, convenient location to use. He believes treatment recommendations will start focusing more on “evidence-based medicine” and utilizing checklists, capitalizing on our ability to assure patients are exposed to what has been proven to work best.

Both Baldwin and Schneller agree the new legislation is not ideal. It doesn’t have bipartisan support and involved a lot of political deal-making. They also worry cutting profits for companies, such as those making medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs, might discourage some innovation in those fields.

Overall, they like that the legislation will help fill gaps in coverage, such as insurance for people between jobs and for younger Americans up to 26 years old and still living at home, who will now be able to get coverage through their parents’ insurance plans. They are pleased about the removal of lifetime maximum benefits, which can currently bankrupt people with catastrophic illnesses when their benefits run out.

Both maintain that some type of health care reform was needed, although Baldwin wishes it had come in increments, rather than such sweeping change. Schneller thinks the overhaul was necessary. He said that is due to the escalation in insurance premiums and what he calls the relative failure of the market-based system to create the incentives needed to assure safety, high quality and appropriate care.

“Following the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s, there were many unanticipated consequences and necessary adjustments to escalating costs and abuses in the system,” he said. “For people in those programs, things worked out, but the gaps in both access and accountability have become unacceptable. Those of us who are insured and secure have been looking at this legislation in very personal ways, and the thought of change creates fear and trepidation, but you have to look at the overall impact of the bill on improved access and quality and lower costs. We have to recognize that if things were bad when the banking industry recently fell, we were on the same track if health care costs weren’t brought under control in this country.”