Philosophically, I think medical care is a right, not a privilege. Also, I personally believe we, both as individuals and as a society, especially one as affluent as we are, have the moral responsibility to help those most in need. Furthermore, basic and quality health care should be included in the abstract principle and ideal value of human rights.
I trust most people in our society--deep down--will agree that individual citizens have a right to basic and quality health care which should be equally accessible to all. Of course, translating the abstract concept to the particular details spelling out who gets what--specifically how much, when, and for how long--will be very difficult to come to an agreement. Even so, I trust governmental agencies and programs, utilizing consumers and other steak holders, people with various kinds of expertise, bipartisan members of the Senate and House of Representatives and the President, over time with honest discussion and compromise, will be able to delineate the practical and particular details of what is included in basic and quality health care.
I think most people agree that our medical delivery system--even as good as it is--needs to be reformed in a number of ways. Currently, across the country, we are having a raucous, loud, and heated debate on the subject. The Forum's recent editorial noted some of these town meetings were "emotionally charged and orchestrated thuggery" and, of course, generated "more heat than light". The editorial correctly pointed out that some people are "misrepresenting the bill" and "are little more than liars and fear mongers". Prime examples are the misinformation about the "death panels", illegal immigrants, and distorted depictions of British, Canadian, European health care systems. (These scare tactics remind me of Senator Joseph McCarthy; everywhere in our society, he saw Communists hired by and reporting to Moscow, especially Hollywood types and writers; and he developed his infamous list of two hundred and five.) In the current health reform debate, angry protestors who have dominated town hall meetings claim that our government is the Big Brother Wolf who cannot be trusted to provide a government option in order to improve health care services and delivery for our country. They condemn it by calling it Socialism. The truth, of course, is that we already have government options providing health care (and other programs, for example, disaster relief, federal highways, postal service, agricultural subsidies, etc.--what in Europe is called Democratic Socialism) for some of our citizens. Who, among us, does not personally know someone --friends, neighbors and relatives--who are or have been receiving health care through Medicare, Social Security, or the Veterans Administration? Where would they be without them? These programs provide and deliver basic and good health care services. Unfortunately, there are other citizens who have little or no health insurance. Where do they go? Frequently it is the local emergency room. We are well aware that this is neither efficient nor effective health care delivery. Therefore, these individuals do not have equal access to our health care system. Simply, I think every citizen (whether they are young or old, employed or unemployed, regardless of gender, race, pre-existing condition, social or economic status, etc.) should have equal access to basic health care. I have faith that government agencies and programs with bipartisan boards and expert panel members, with concern for the common good, will be able to make these difficult decisions and implement a fair and just health care delivery system.
In last week's edition of the Enterprise Bulletin, Mr. Tomporowski asked fair and pointed questions of Republicans who are Christians. Of course his questions must also be answered by Christian Democrats. My response is: Now is the time for us to reform our health care system by expanding the government options we already have by including all those who do not have health insurance or the personal resources to meet their basic health needs! Are the majority of us who have adequate health insurance afraid we will lose some coverage if we include the currently uninsured? Are we selfishly denying them equal access? Tell me this is not so. After we enact a law to provide basic and quality care, then we should prosecute the purveyors (this would be some private business owners) of the fraud who bilk our government every year for millions of dollars for phony medical procedures and expenses. Then, once everyone is included and has equal access, we can gradually and incrementally tweak our system to make it even better over time.