Forum Thread

The Discussion Of Health Care As A Right - A Process Review

Reply to ThreadDisplaying 13 Posts
  • Republican
    Lenexa, KS
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    On other boards, this kind of thread immediately turns into a light beer commercial.

    I really don't want to argue whether health care is or isn't a right on in this thread.

    Instead, I would rather have a process discussion.

    I would hope that this is achievable.

    Let me start....

    Before we can start discussing the premise or conclusion (as the case may be) that "health care is a right", we first need to do two things....

    One, we need to get out on the table what it is that we consider a right. This would be basic defintions. In part the race to justify those defintions comes later as we talk about consistency of the definition and it's application. But for now, it is just...everybody put your definition in the hat and let's start there.

    Next, we need to discuss just what it is that we want to call health care. I find that I can't get a common defintion or description of this that is not loaded with all kinds of traps......

    In once case on another board, a woman told me that health care was anything and everything that we want it to be....and it irritates conservatives....it should be something we want.

    Hopefully, we don't go there.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        

    Listening poses some interesting questions that might have been a part of the Congressional debate on health care, but I missed it if it was.  I'll put my views on the table, but recognize that there are no clear cut answers...no two people will agree completely on this issue even within the liberal community.

    However, before addressing what is basic health care or more appropriately what part of health care is a "right," we need to first establish one basic point: HEALTH CARE IS NOT FREE.  It doesn't matter if you live in Canada, the United Kingdom, or are on Medicare or Medicaid or attending a "free health clinic," someone is paying for the health care if you are not. When the government pays for your health care it is really you the tax payer;  when the insurance company is paying for your health care, it is really you and others that are paying in premiums; when you go into an emergency room and can't pay, those others that can afford to pay are paying for your care through higher emergency room costs; when you are attending a free clinic, someone is subsidizing the cost through their generosity, and if the doctors are donating their time, it is time that they could have spent treating paying patients. Nothing is free in this world.  Somebody is paying for it if not you.

    When liberals talk of basic health care as a "right," most think of the more common minor ailments and diseases like coughs, colds, pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, sprains, and broken bones.  But we would also include more complex and chronic ailments such as heart disease, cancer, stroke,  diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, hepatitus, tuberculosis, autism, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, MRSA, and host of birth defects. So yes, these should be rights under any health care plan and not denied.

    However, while believing that this level of health care is a right, we would also never think that it should be free to the patient, except for the very poor. On the other hand, costs should not be inordinately high either, which implies that someone else shares in the costs for those more severely afflicted. So on the question of cost: should healthy people subsidize the costs of treating the unhealthy? And by unhealthy, I would include those unhealthy by choice: smokers, heavy drinkers, and drug users for example, or maybe also those engaged in dangerous activities...extreme sports and reckless driving, for example.  I would still be inclined to say 'yes', only because it would be difficult to separate people into those groups. Limiting health care based on life style would essentially be restricting people's freedom...unAmerican.

    For those that question that premise, what is the certainty that an otherwise healthy person would not by some misfortune become unhealthy?  I don't like to use anecdotal examples as it is cherry picking from a large population, but consider the case of Terri Shiavo. Much has been said of the politics behind removing her feeding tube, but what is less well known is that Ms Shiavo was an otherwise healthy 27 year old that collapsed and went into a coma. She was kept alive for 15 years by artificial means. I mention this only because people are familiar with the case and not to score political points.  The question that I would ask is this: Is it fair to allocate unlimited medical care and costs to a patient that is very likely to be terminally ill? And in an extreme environment where rationing of health care exists, is it fair to deny care for another person in order to maintain the life of someone like Terri Schiavo?

    NO...somewhere a line has to be drawn. Unlimited health care at any cost is not realistic. The Terri Schiavo decision might be an easy one for some, but people are faced with less obvious and very difficult choices every day. The difference between Democrats and Republicans may not be all that far apart on where that line is drawn.  However, where we seem to differ is who draws that line: the insurance company?  the family? the doctor? the government? I'll leave this last question unanswered, except to say that living wills should be a part of the public dabate and not associated with "death panels."

    I haven't fully addressed Listening's request, but it is a discussion worth continuing.

     

     

  • Republican
    Lenexa, KS
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    I would still suggest that we start with the basic defnition of a right. Again, we are addressing the idea that "health care is a right". What I read from the previous post might be that "catstropich health care is a right".

    I have always been taught that a right is something you have that does not cost others for you to have.

    Now that would preclude health care....but I am not going to make that assertion. I think we need to talk about rights first.

    Rights under the constitution.

    Unenumerated rights.

    Civil rights.

    Selective rights.

    All of this has to be looked at in context.

    Since this might seem a little cold, I do think it important that we not confuse the assertion that something is not a right with a claim that society has no obligation. Again, in basic terms, this useful to push around and discuss before going to health care because it opens up other models that don't put the focus squarely on the government.

    Had the GOP taken this stance in 1993, I don't think we would have the problem we have today (meaning I think health care would be going to more people). But they blew it ! Now they are on their heels.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        

    I, for one, do not believe health care is a right in any sense. I see health care more as a public good.  Having the government offer some sort of health care benefits society as a whole.  Other public goods currently being built, maintained, and controlled by the government include, Highways and roads, power lines and electricity, public schools, state universities, pipes and sewage systems, and waste disposal.

    Each of these services are provided by the government because they benefit every citizen. I could go into detail about each one of these but I feel that would be a little verbose and superfluous. So I'll just focus on the health care issue.

    Let’s look at the most obvious reason health care should be affordable, communicable diseases.  Historically, deadly diseases tend to spread through poorer, less healthy, populations. The bubonic plague is a perfect example. I'm not saying that universal health care would have stopped the plague, proper sewage and drainage system would have solved that.  But a disease free population is always a plus.

    On a less serious topic, healthy people tend to live happier more productive lives than unhealthy people.  When I worked for the post office, I did not get paid sick time. I had an upper respiratory infection last semester. I had a choice to either go into work, coughing and wheezing, or to stay home and not get paid. I could not afford to go to the doctor, which cost $180 plus any meds I was prescribed. Since I lived paycheck to paycheck, I could not afford to miss work or go to the doctor, so I doped up on OTC meds for 2 weeks just to make it through each day.  I wasn't very productive at work and I certainly wasn't happy.  I'm not saying the current health care plan would have helped me in any way in this situation, it probably would not have; I'm just making the point that healthy people are happier and more productive.

    I know this isn’t an argument for health care being right, I feel that it got labeled a “right” in Washington to help garner support for it.  This is a common political tactic, like declaring war on something, war on poverty, war on drugs, war on whatever cause is popular at the time.

  • Republican
    Lenexa, KS
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    All of this useful somewhere in the trajectory of a discussion on health care.

    However, I would again say that, from a process standpoint, we focus on what is and isn't a right.

    You have stated that you don't believe that health care is a right. While I respect most opinions, we cannot live on opinions.

    What is needed is for principle to be translated into statue (or lack of statue as the case may be). And since the government's job is to "protect our rights", it is important that we first determine if this is a right.

    If it is, then the government is obligate to protect it.

    If it isn't, then the discussion becomes a very different one.

    I will submit the following quote from a favorite article of mine:

    Balint Vazsonyi, introduced a prior article, congratulated the drafters of the Magna Carta in 1215 for discovering the following simple truth: “A person’s rights are best secured by conceding the very same rights to every other person under the same jurisdiction.” [2] He called these “reciprocal rights” and commented that “Legal scholars of distinction [had] produced writings to fill several libraries, yet this seemingly obvious prescription for domestic tranquility [had] escaped them [prior to this point in time.]” [3]

    He reminds us that for something to legitimately be considered a “right” it must apply to all people. In other words, universality of application is required. Therefore, “group rights” that provide benefits to only those within the applicable group and not to those outside that group, are not really “rights” at all but must be called something else.
    ****************

    Now, if I argue that health care is not a right, then it is not a right for anyone.

    And if you argue health care is a right, you have to define it in such a way that it apply's to everyone. This means equally available and and at equal levels of service. If you restrice your definition....that is O.K., but again it has to be for everyone (there is no distinction between who can and can't afford it....if you give it to one person....you give it to all people...period...by definition).

    In the extreme, it could be argued that this is not possible....but that is not the point of my bringing this up. It is to create a context in which we talk...not argue.

    You mention affordibility. Again, I can't argue the point that you make. But I can't tell what premise you seek to support. When you say some sort of health care....is this what you seek to support ?

    If so, you need to define that support.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        

    "It's the right thing to do." Just Google that expression along with any President's name and you'll find it used again and again. Bush used it to justify taking out Saddam Hussein, Bill Clinton used it on numerous occasions,  and so has Barack Obama on health care.

    Our Constitution contains several legal rights, but a guarantee to health care is not one of them.  But absence of a specific right does not mean that there aren't moral rights or obligations of our society.  The abolition of slavery and women's suffrage were two amendments in which moral rights became legal rights within the Constitution.  Social Security and Medicare were enacted as laws because our society decided to legalize what we saw as our moral obligations to take care of all of our senior citizens.  

    We have enacted state laws and regulations protecting the handicapped and the blind because it was the right thing to do morally.  And in most states the rights of non-smokers to breathe clean air are now protected with bans on smoking in public places. In Colorado and several other states, laws have been enacted that require emergency rooms to care for patients regardless of ability to pay.  These state laws were enacted because a majority of our elected representatives felt it was the right thing to do, much like Obama said, "it's the right thing to do" on passing the current health care legislation.  

    The horror stories of people losing health care were a part of the narrative in selling health care as a moral right, but so was the outlandish profits and CEO bonuses of the health insurance companies. Profiting big time off of people's sickness and misery doesn't play well in the moral conscience of many citizens as they demanded a fairer and more equitable system of health care. "It's the right thing to do" addresses the morality of the decision in an attempt to provide more equality in health care for all. These are the rights that many liberals speak of when they say health care is a right rather than a privilege.

    Now they just need to sell it that way. If the message remains a "government take-over of health care," the Democrats will indeed lose bigtime in November. But not enough to repeal the law.

  • Republican
    Lenexa, KS
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Schmidt Wrote:

    "It's the right thing to do." Just Google that expression along with any President's name and you'll find it used again and again. Bush used it to justify taking out Saddam Hussein, Bill Clinton used it on numerous occasions, and so has Barack Obama on health care.



    GWB was wrong.

    I'd have to see if Bill Clinton was wrong.

    Barack Obama is wrong.

    The statement is "It's the right thing for government to do".  And that is a very dangerous thing to say.

    It justifies nothing on it's own.

  • Republican
    Lenexa, KS
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Schmidt Wrote:

    Our Constitution contains several legal rights, but a guarantee to health care is not one of them.  But absence of a specific right does not mean that there aren't moral rights or obligations of our society.  The abolition of slavery and women's suffrage were two amendments in which moral rights became legal rights within the Constitution.  Social Security and Medicare were enacted as laws because our society decided to legalize what we saw as our moral obligations to take care of all of our senior citizens.  

    We have enacted state laws and regulations protecting the handicapped and the blind because it was the right thing to do morally.  And in most states the rights of non-smokers to breathe clean air are now protected with bans on smoking in public places. In Colorado and several other states, laws have been enacted that require emergency rooms to care for patients regardless of ability to pay.  These state laws were enacted because a majority of our elected representatives felt it was the right thing to do, much like Obama said, "it's the right thing to do" on passing the current health care legislation.  



    I would suggest you stop the argument after the first couple of sentences and penetrate those concepts further.

    The constitution is a limiting document.  That is what the framers inteneded it to be.  That the SCOTUS lost their bearings (in more ways than one) is another story.

    But the Constitution does not judge morality.  We are told time and time again that we don't legislate morality and if you look at any effort to do so, you'd see why.  So being "morally right" is not an argument for making it law.

    That does not mean that we don't have an obligation as a society to help each other....that is a different argument.  

    Social Security: Not a moral justification...simply a matter of math.  You have to be familiar with the impact the industrial revolution and ubanization was having on the elderly to appreciate why they needed help.  There was nothing moral about it.  What was immoral was using the crisis to create a permanent "fix" that amounts to a permament "broke".  Medicare came into being at a time when we could really afford it.  If you tried to enact that in today's climate with the kind of things we have going on...forget it.  Our morals would quickly find themselves trumped by other considerations.

    And the idea that using ER's as emergicare facilities has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever seen.  It is an open door policy for abuse and in my home state of AZ, many hosptials have simply shut down their ER's because they can't afford all the freebees that show up.

    I fail to see how this is an argument for anything except "because we should" and that seems to preclude any rational consideration of the subject.

  • Republican
    Lenexa, KS
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        

    I am going to ask people to look at the opening post again and consider the process of holding this discussion.

    There is nothing new here that we have not heard before.

    My point is that once we have established a few ground rules and defnitions, we might actually have a good discussion.

    Just coming on with the same left wing or right wing talking points does nothing.

    I can get that watching MSNBC or Fox.

  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    It seems that you are trying to argue that legislation and government action should only occur when someone's rights are being jeapordized.  This is not the case at all.

    Government does not have a sole purpose of protecting rights. They have many other responsibilities. Just because government offered health care is not a right, does not mean it shouldn't exist. People do not have a right to roads or speed limits. People don't have a right to public parks or recreation centers. Despite the absence of the right to have these things available, they have all be established through some form of legislation because of they benefit  society as a whole without inffringing on the rights of the people.
  • Republican
    Lenexa, KS
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Zach F Wrote: It seems that you are trying to argue that legislation and government action should only occur when someone's rights are being jeapordized.  This is not the case at all.

    Government does not have a sole purpose of protecting rights. They have many other responsibilities. Just because government offered health care is not a right, does not mean it shouldn't exist. People do not have a right to roads or speed limits. People don't have a right to public parks or recreation centers. Despite the absence of the right to have these things available, they have all be established through some form of legislation because of they benefit  society as a whole without inffringing on the rights of the people.


    Well, this is an intersting statement.

    Now, I would first ask you....which governemnt ?

    You know what the first amendment says in the USC.....about religion.

    Were you aware that several states had state supported religions up until the early 1830's.  And that they were never seriously challenged.  The states simply chose to write them out of their constitutions.

    The USC was designed to LIMIT the powers of the federal government.  Now, I will be the first to admit that the GOP has been just as guilty of using the federal goverment to achieve it's ends as the dems (the dems at least don't hide behind states rights all the while stabbing them in the back).

    So, assuming for the sake of interest (and I am interested) that what you say is true, what is it that defines the role of government ?  And by the way, it is not enough to say "The People".  It needs to be cleaner than that.  

    What prevents the federal government from deciding to shoot all people with red hair (as an extreme) ?
  • Jersey Village, TX
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    A post said:
    So on the question of cost: should healthy people subsidize the costs of treating the unhealthy? And by unhealthy, I would include those unhealthy by choice: smokers, heavy drinkers, and drug users for example, or maybe also those engaged in dangerous activities...extreme sports and reckless driving, for example. I would still be inclined to say 'yes', only because it would be difficult to separate people into those groups. Limiting health care based on life style would essentially be restricting people's freedom...unAmerican.


    Yes, it is very difficult to say with certainty what health conditions are by choice and which ones are not, and it is probably not possible. Nevertheless, the goal of limiting health care based on life style is not unAmerican. It simply acknowledges the natural link between actions and consequences.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Sometimes the obvious answer just stares at you waiting to be acknowledged, since this Nation so large both in geography and her people, so diverse ,both in culture and customs that there isn't any one fix for all with the exception of the dreaded word in some circles especially within the GOP, single payer system, I think this idea should get a fair hearing from both sides of the aisle, with the premise that ideologue and special interest's remain out of the hearing room.