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Medical ethics talk addresses plight of uninsured

March 28, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A nationally recognized authority on medical ethics is coming to Western Michigan University Thursday, March 30, to address the ethical dilemma of having vast numbers of Americans with inadequate or no medical insurance.

Christian J. Krautkramer is a research assistant in the American Medical Association's Ethics Standards Group. Krautkramer's presentation is titled "Access, Ethics and Medicine: A Teachable Moment" and begins at 11 a.m. in Room 3512 of Knauss Hall. The event is sponsored by the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society and is free and open to the public.

Krautkramer joined the Ethics Standards Group in 2003 and, under the direction of the vice president for ethics standards, helps develop and implement humanitarian service and outreach programs through the AMA's Caring for Humanity initiative. He also provides research and writing support. Krautkramer previously was on the staff of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Sciences Institutional Review Board.

Nearly 46 million Americans are without health insurance, while another 16 million are underinsured and forgo needed care. Compared to the insured, the uninsured live significantly sicker, shorter lives. The Institute of Medicine estimates that each year, 18,000 people without health insurance die prematurely and the total annual loss in human capital is upward of $130 billion. Krautkramer contends that this threat to the well-being of the nation can be summed up in the three words "access to care" and that the crisis undermines the very fabric of society.

The health care crisis, however, also presents a teachable moment. Krautkramer maintains that key questions need to be asked to address the problem, including how can the crisis be examined through the lens of bioethics and what are the duties and obligations the medical profession has to protect society's health, outside of direct, one-on-one patient care?

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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