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Med Congress Club Looks to Address Health Care Policies

By Carina Fung

The MITMedical Congress, a new student-run organization focusing on health care policy, will hold its first meeting next Wednesday.

The meeting will feature a talk by Harvard Medical School Associate professor of Medicine and Health Care Policy David Blumenthal, who is chief of the health policy research and development unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Medical Congress was formed to recognize the rapidly growing interest in health care policy, said Eugene E. Lee '98, one of the co-founders of the club.

"Our experience in Washington, D.C. this past summer Internship Program was the largest influence in the formation of this club," said Benson P. Yang '97, the other co-founder.

Lee, Yang, and eight other MIT students spent their summer in Washington D.C. working in various internship under a program sponsored by the Department of Political Science. Both Lee and Yang worked as policy analysts - Lee for the Institute of Medicine and Yang for the Congressional Research Service.

Lee and Yang were very excited about the experiences they came across in their respective internships and in Washington in general and wanted to share their experiences with other MIT students upon their return.

Next Wednesday's meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in room 3-270. The second one meeting is expected to be in November.

Meetings to feature speakers

Medical Congress meetings will be seminar-styled, with a keynote speaker, followed by an open question and answer session, Lee said.

Minutes from each meeting, executive summaries, and possibly a newsletter will be made available to anyone interested, he said.

In addition, the group will also distribute relevant articles by the speakers or by some other source "so that students can take something back with them for future reference or for further investigation," Yang said.

For his talk, entitled "The Effects of Market Reforms on Doctors and Their Patients," Blumenthal will discuss how competition in the U.S. health care system will influence the clinical practice of medicine generally, and interactions between patients and doctors in particular, Yang said.

The premedical students at MIT are very aware of the changes in health care and want to learn more about the field, Lee said. "This is an excellent opportunity to illuminate the present and future trends in the fields of medicine and health care," Lee said.

"From preliminary reactions, students seem very interested in the club. It is an issue that is not addressed widely at the undergraduate level, but is very important for people to understand," Yang said.

MIT faculty who have been contacted thus far seem very enthusiastic, he said.

Future speakers, from the Harvard Kennedy School, New England Medical Center, and MIT, will be featured every one to two months, Yang said.

"One of the future meetings will consist of residents currently in the medical field, speaking about their education experiences," Lee said.

Lee and Yang plan to survey students to see what other areas of interest there might be. Future topics may include Medicare vs. Medicaid, bioethics, insurance reform, comparative health care systems of different countries, or the American health care system, Yang said.

Currently, the Medical Congress is funded in part by the Undergraduate Association, Yang said. The group is not at this point affiliated with any other organizations but may have a degree of overlap with the Premedical Society, Lee said.