By Matthew Harrison, Broadside Correspondent

President Barack Obama’s Friday visit to the George Mason University Patriot Center injected new fire into the health care debate on campus.
With the spotlight on health care issues, Mason’s Economics Society said it hopes to answer some of the questions faculty and students have regarding the reform process.

The society will host a debate on the role of government in health care on Wed., March 24 in Room 80 of Enterprise Hall.
Dr. Bryan Caplan, a Mason faculty member, will debate against economist Dr. David Balan on the issue. Professor Robert Hanson, a Mason economist with expertise in health care, will serve as moderator.

“We would like the students to hear both sides of the arguments presented by professionals,” said Liya Palagashvili, vice president of the Economics Society.
Debates and town hall meetings on the controversial topic have been heated. With members from both political parties presenting different and sometimes contradictory ideas, some feel that finding objective and balanced information has been difficult.

The Economics Society said it hopes that this week’s debate will provide the in-depth discussion that is allegedly lacking in the media.
“We want to get more of an academic view instead of a polemic [one],” said Mike Ostrowski, president of the society. “It’s a tradition for Caplan to debate each year. [The debaters] are professionals. They would be good at evaluating certain policies.”

The debaters hope to offer students a better inside look at health care reform by answering questions that the Economics Society said generally went ignored.
“The Economics Society is trying to [cover] interesting and popular issues that affect students while also encouraging questions and interaction about the debate,” said Palagashvili.

George Washington University, Georgetown University and American University were also invited to the event. Students from all colleges will have a time slot to ask questions at the end of the debate.

“Health care is playing a major role in news media today, and it’s important that both sides are presented fairly,” said Sam Fleming, a sophomore neuroscience major.
“These debates are very important because health care is playing a major role in mass media and it’s important to understand the debates [themselves],” said Corwin Stoney, an undeclared sophomore.

The debate organizers aim to give students a chance to hear both sides of the polarizing issue, which they believe is especially relevant in light of President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Mason to discuss health care reform. They want to offer students the opportunity to better understand health care policies that directly affect them.