Dr. John Geyman will give three public speeches about health care reform this week while visiting Juneau from Washington state. (Courtesy Photo | John Geyman)

Dr. John Geyman will give three public speeches about health care reform this week while visiting Juneau from Washington state. (Courtesy Photo | John Geyman)

Inform not proselytize: Renowned doctor to visit Juneau to talk health care reform

Trio of talks set sights on 2020 and beyond.

Health care reform is emerging as one of the core issues that will define the 2020 election cycle, and two Juneau organizations want voters to be informed when they had to the polls next year.

That’s why the Healthy Alaskans Coalition and the League of Women Voters of Juneau are bringing Dr. John Geyman, author, professor emeritus of Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and member of the National Academy of Medicine, to town to speak about health care reform.

“We admitted very early in the game that we wanted to inform people, not proselytize people,” said Dr. carolyn Brown, a member of both League of Women Voters and Healthy Alaskans Coalition, in an interview. The coalition is a local group that formed following a 2017 Sen. Lisa Murkowski talk in Juneau that focuses on health care concerns.

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Healthy Alaskans Coalition member Luann McVey said there are differing opinions within the organization about what health care options make the most sense, but it universally acknowledged it’s a matter that’s both complicated and important.

So, for the better part of the year, the group worked to bring Geyman to Juneau in light of his extensive writings — his website shows 16 books and he’s authored dozens of others— on health care reform and related topics, including “Common Sense: The Case For and Against Medicare for All.”

Geyman will speak at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at KTOO, 360 Egan Drive, noon Thursday at the Moose Lodge, 8335 Airport Blvd., as part of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon; and 5 p.m. Thursday at the Downtown Public Library, 292 Marine Way, to answer more health care-related questions.

Geyman said in an interview that his first speech will outline potential options for health care reform change and make the case for why the U.S. health care system needs to change.

“We ration care because it’s too unaffordable,” Geyman said in an interview. “The status quo isn’t good.”

While the talks are meant to be informative rather than advocate for a particular political cause, Geyman said the future of health care in the U.S. will ultimately be decided by politics.

Different candidates within the Democratic Party have varying visions for the future of health care in the United States, and those can be radically different from President Donald Trump’s health care plans, which include replacing the Affordable Care Act, according to the health care page of the White House’s website.

Geyman said there are essentially three plans that seem to be in play heading into 2020.

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Those are: A Republican plan, which Trump has tweeted will be voted on after the 2020 election; retooling the Affordable Care Act, which has been changing shape essentially since its inception and has been further altered during Trump’s presidency; and some sort of universal health care plan, such as “Medicare for All,” which is supported by some progressive Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Standards but criticized by other candidates.

Geyman said to him universal health care seems to be a “no-brainer,” that would make health care more accessible to people and possibly save businesses money.

The business angle will be the main focus of his Thursday chamber talk.

Geyman said his talk will likely touch on the ways universal health care, which is often described by critics as being unfeasible, could be a positive for businesses.

“Businesses can have a healthier workforce by paying less,” Geyman said.

Know & Go

What: Dr. John Geyman talks on health care reform.

When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, noon Thursday, and 5 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Wednesday’s talk is at KTOO’s studio, 360 Egan Drive; Thursday’s earlier talk is at the Moose Lodge, 8335 Airport Blvd.; and the Thursday evening talk is at the Downtown Public Library, 292 Marine Way.

Admission: The Wednesday and Thursday evening talks are free and open to the public, but there is a suggested $5 donation for the Wednesday talk. Admission for chamber luncheons cost $25 for non-members, $20 for members and $12 for people who only wish to hear the speaker.

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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