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At this critical moment in the country’s health care reform process, citizens from coast to coast are meeting to discuss what lies ahead.

Such a discussion took place on Monday morning at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The Field Center — a group dedicated to making reforms in child welfare — hosted the event.

The center is associated with the School of Social Policy and Practice, Penn Law, Penn Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The event, entitled “Health Care Reform — Hope for the Welfare of Children,” was the first community symposium of the year.

The panelists included U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania’s 13th District and Donald Schwarz, Philadelphia deputy mayor for health and opportunity. State Representative Mike Gerber introduced the two speakers.

Schwartz began her segment by addressing some major healthcare-related concerns.

We must focus on providing affordable, accessible health coverage for all Americans, while also maintaining the rising health care costs for businesses, families and local governments, according to Schwartz.

She also discussed the broader challenges of the new proposed system.

“If we were just expanding a federal program, that would actually be a lot easier,” she said. “We are building on a private-public system though, so we have to look at rules and regulations of the private insurance market.”

Schwartz also spoke positively about Obama’s progress and its effect on the youth of Philadelphia.

When it was Schwarz’s turn to speak, he emphasized how important it was for Americans to read at least the detailed summaries of the new health care legislation from the House and the Senate.

“If we care about children, these two pieces of legislation represent one of the greatest opportunities to create an agenda that is positive and supportive,” he said.

Schwarz highlighted the impact this legislation would have on local children.

There would be funding for chronic disease prevention, school health centers, federally funded health centers and a women’s health center.

Currently, Philadelphia has a system of 32 federally funded health centers.

In addition to creating new centers, a federal regulatory process could also keep these existing programs intact, Schwarz explained.

Many of those who left the Levy Conference Center at the conclusion of the program felt more informed about children’s welfare and health care, especially in Philadelphia.

“The symposium was insightful,” SP2 student Alison Petok remarked. “The panelists gave a good overview of what’s going on right now with health care reform and how important it is that we stay informed.”

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