Proponents of cooperative discussion are offering up an alternative Thursday night to the bitter bickering often surrounding the health-care debate.

 

The forum at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park honors Bernard Wolfman. He was a longtime legal-ethics scholar at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.

He was also Dina Baker's dad.

"We had to pay him 10 cents if he heard us say 'shut up' to one each other," Baker recalls of growing up. "But if we told on each other for saying 'shut up,' the person who said 'shut up' paid nothing, but the tattler paid 20 cents."

Baker says it was an early lesson in civil discourse for her and her brothers. She said she's hoping for more of the same Thursday night.

David Nash, founding dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health, will share his opinions on the role of the federal government in health care.

"Uncle Sam's job might be, in part, to help first identify the waste, give us tools and technology to reduce the waste and then to reallocate the dollars," Nash said.

Stuart Butler, director of the Center for Policy Innovation at the Heritage Foundation, has a slightly different take.

"I think government can help guide that process, can help set up situations to give the incentive for more efficient care, coordinated care, but we've got to talk through seriously how well it can do this," Butler said.

Nash said he's looking forward to less rhetoric and more plain speaking than typically heard in health-care discussions.

"Folks have tuned out, it's like too many alarm bells going off. As a result, you don't hear a single alarm bell," Nash said.

Baker says expect a discussion -- not a debate.

WHYY's Director of News and Civic Dialogue, Chris Satullo, is moderating Thursday night's discussion.

For more information, visit www.civildiscourseproject.org

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