Opinion: Health care is a right, not a luxury

(AP)

The Founding Fathers made no mention of a right to health care in the U.S. Constitution, nor did they add it to the Bill of Rights. Those first 10 amendments guaranteed us many important things — the right to free speech and the right to worship the god of our choice, among others — but not a right to health care.

Subsequent generations of Americans have added to and extended those constitutional rights, for example by abolishing slavery, extending the vote to women and guaranteeing that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of race or national origin.

But even now, there’s not a single mention of a right to health care.

Yet even if it is not written on parchment somewhere, such a right clearly exists. As the GOP debacle over Obamacare demonstrates, the right to health care exists now as a political reality and as a moral consensus. It exists because the American people have finally decided that it exists. And from now on, any health-care proposal that doesn’t acknowledge that reality is doomed to fail.

Sure, there’s still controversy. A lot of people on the right still try to deny that such a right exists, often by citing the constitutional argument laid out above. To them, I ask a simple question: Do you believe that Americans should be denied life-saving, pain-ending, injury-healing medical treatment because they can’t afford to pay for it?

If you answer yes, that health care is something that can be offered or withheld based on a person’s ability to pay for it, then you honestly believe that health care is not a right.

However, if your answer is no, Americans should not be denied medical treatment because they can’t afford it, then you do believe that health care is a right. From that point, the only remaining questions are how best to provide that treatment and how to pay for it. And while you can argue as a matter of philosophy and preference that the free-market system ought to provide health care to all, as a matter of reality the free-market system leaves tens of millions of working Americans without it.

If you still doubt that health care is a right, look at the debate over Obamacare. Don’t look merely at the outcome, look at how the debate was conducted.

When Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, he did so by promising that he had a plan that would provide even better care to even more people at even lower costs with even lower deductibles. Tom Price, the conservative Georgia congressman turned secretary of Health and Human Services, condemned Obamacare as a failure by citing the millions of Americans whom it left without coverage, suggesting that his plan would correct that problem.

Ask Price whether a right to health care exists and he won’t answer. Ask Trump and he might say yes, but in truth he neither knows nor cares. However, the arguments that they deployed took it as a given that a right to health care exists. With their own words, they acknowledged and even reinforced the notion that a plan that extends coverage to millions of Americans is much better than a plan that strips coverage from millions of Americans.

And once Trump, Price and others finally had to unveil their plans, once it became clear that their pro-coverage rhetoric had been a cynical disguise for policies that stripped insurance from 20 or 30 million Americans and that did not treat health care as a right, the American public rose up to reject their approach.

That’s what happened this week in Washington.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1841 comments
Kathy
Kathy

Its a phony argument. We are all taxpayers. Therefore, we all pay for health care for everyone just like we pay for roads and schools whether we use them or not. This is about big business not wanting to stop making huge profits off of citizens. If the richest country in the world can't afford health care for citizens, how come all the other major countries figured it out??  This is a money issue. Not wanting to spend money on their own citizens. yet, we can ship millions to countries overseas. Shameful!

fredstrickland
fredstrickland

Free health care for all sounds good, and I agree the public has been persuaded. I wish people would think it through more though. Forcing one citizen to contribute the fruits of his labor to finance health care for others who could work, but won't, is akin to slavery is it not? I don't know that all problems have solutions.

scooderpup
scooderpup

If we're guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, isn't helping to stay alive part of life? And if single payer is so bad why are no other countries in the world trying to copy us?

dbm1
dbm1

@scooderpup

The right to life means the right not to be murdered, including the right not to be executed wrongfully.  It can also be taken to include the right to live one's life without being aggressed against, i.e. liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It does not include the right to be taken care of at the expense of others.


The world is dominated by mixed-economy statist ideas, and more fundamentally by the altruist morality.  This has led the entire world down a path of excessive government.  Most of the world has gone down this path farther than the U. S. A. has, at least as far as health care is concerned.

Dallas
Dallas

You need to look up the difference between a right and entitlement. Healthcare can be an entitlement, but never a right. Women weren't allowed to vote, not because they lacked the right, but because laws infringed on that right. Same either slavery. Slavery was the written law. Emancipation took down those laws.

And while your focus on the patient is nice, what of the provider? Do you have the right to force a doctor to provide service?

NGoose
NGoose

Very much so. Rights are an entitlement and a consensus on calling something a Right merely bends the definition, (not a good thing, mind you). The protection of a right cannot assume the use of force to compel a skilled worker to provide his or her service.

CraiginSmyrna
CraiginSmyrna

Total BS. If healthcare is a right then so is food, housing, education, transportation and anything else you wanna throw in there. Nothing in the Constitution that would declare this a right. The only "Right" that we all have is the freedom to pursue what makes us happy. There are no guaranteed outcomes

dbm1
dbm1

Healthcare is neither a right nor a luxury.

The existence of a national consensus does not prove that the consensus is right.

Yes, Americans should be denied life-saving, pain-ending, injury-healing medical treatment because they can’t afford to pay for it, unless someone else is voluntarily willing to pay for it.

It has been a long time since we have had a consistent free market.  It is mixed-economy statism that has left tens of millions of working Americans without healthcare.

Looking to Trump to solve or resolve anything is even worse than looking to a randomly selected preschooler to do so, because at least the preschooler might be willing to listen to good advice.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@dbm1 

Why don't you know how insurance works?

dbm1
dbm1

@Kamchak @dbm1 

True insurance is a system in which people voluntarily pool resources to pay for their healthcare.  It is a voluntary system to improve the policyholders' chances of being able to pay for healthcare.  Kamchak may understand the nuts and bolts of insurance, but he does not understand the fundamental moral principles involved.

dbm1
dbm1

@AvgGeorgian @dbm1 @Kamchak

There is a big difference between car insurance and health insurance.  With cars, a person can, without intending it, commit a serious physical aggression that imposes costs on someone else.  Requiring those who own or drive cars to make provision for this is very different from the kind of requirements currently being imposed in connection with health insurance.

Peachs
Peachs

Senator McCain your country needs you one more time so God!s speed fast recovery!

Peachs
Peachs

Trump!s taxes may be a simple case of tax evasion as opposed to Russian affiliation. He is such a crook I can't imagine him filing taxes without loopholes for not paying them!

OldJacketFan
OldJacketFan

Trump sheetz LOL!!! I know, that doesn't sound quite right!

KUTGF
KUTGF

Most people don't really want the truth, they just want a constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth. -- unknown

This should be the slogan for RW media.  

gotalife
gotalife

We have a new FBI director approved.

Peachs
Peachs

Weakest president in a 200 year history of this country!

gotalife
gotalife

It is a death sentence like Biden's son.



Peachs
Peachs

Old white Americans are suckers for brands. Trump is all about brands backed by lies. He and the Republican Party have made Obamacare a negative brand. How's that working for them?

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Peachs Republicans gave ACA the nick name Obamacare to tarnish it.  Most Trump voters like their ACA but do not like Obamacare which is why the voted for Trump to repeal Obamacare and not to repeal ACA.  Crazy huh?

King_of_Kolob
King_of_Kolob

@rimsky That is a strong leader and we know how Republicans love to show strength!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

A high school buddy of my dads had this same diagnosis McCain has now about a year ago.


He didn't last 3 months. Was sad


This is a VERY aggressive cancer. Its terminal.


McCain will need to get his affairs in order right away. 

kitty72
kitty72

@Hedley_Lammar  Ted Kennedy had this cancer as well. He hung in for a while, but it got him. Sad.

gotalife
gotalife

John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I've ever known. Cancer doesn't know what it's up against. Give it hell, John.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 20, 2017

gotalife
gotalife

Of course trump could fire sessions but he chose to try to make him quit for some reason.



StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@gotalife Trump is an official suspect in Obstruction of Justice, that is why he is not firing anyone.  All hell will break loose if he does.

rimsky
rimsky

@gotalife He does not have the cajones to fire him (Session will spill the beans on trump and Kislyak).

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

I was named Atty Gen this morning? I've been promoted!

gotalife
gotalife

@ScubaSteve You would be much better than sessions because you did not meet with russia..

KUTGF
KUTGF

@ScubaSteve @gotalife  You forgot to tell Got to go back through all the old posts to find that proof otherwise he's a liar!  ;)

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@ScubaSteve  Yep - JeffEAV wants you in his cabinet but you are reporting to one of his twins.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Wonder if Trump will tweet something along these lines ?


I like the Senators who dont get cancer. 


I wouldn't put it past him. The 5 deferments coward has criticized McCain before. A man beaten so badly he cant even lift his arms above his head anymore. Whatever you think of McCain's politics know this. Military folks dont like it when you screw with former POW's,. Especially when you were too chicken to fight yourself. 


The saddest part. If he tweeted that the usual crowd would be here applauding him for it. 



Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Hedley_Lammar

Military folks dont like it when you screw with former POW's,

Some don't. A lot, however, were more than happy to hear Trump's filthy words about McCain and just say "it's just part of the game" and shrug it off. I've heard such vets interviewed.

I just can't... even...


Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Visual_Cortex @Hedley_Lammar Not the men I knew.. Although I dont doubt some are out there. 


My dad served with guys who were at Hanoi Hilton. 


You didn't screw with those guys. Not matter what.


NOT EVER

gotalife
gotalife

Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer too


sessions will respond to trump attacking him.


He should resign for lying about russian contacts twice.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@gotalife

Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer too

Though I didn't like him, it was a sad day...

The Lion of the Senate was no more.

Prayers go up for The Maverick and his family, as they did for Teddy.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@gotalife If Trump is rambling then he knows that something bad is about to come out about Russia, it's a pattern with Trump.  I wonder what kind of boot will be dropping this time.  

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@gotalife @FIGMO2

Everyone dies, Getalife. The manner in which they exit makes all the difference.

Resolve and peace can make the passing gentle.


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@FIGMO2 @gotalife

Yep. And it think that's what all the good vibes, prayers, dances, smoke signals, etc. being sent John's way are mostly about.