Of the many specials on health care that have been taking place these past few weeks, this recent PJTV forum should be singularly commended for daring to ask of our political leaders the one question upon which the whole concept of government health care rests: Is health care a right?
This crucial question has been notoriously absent from Presidential speeches, interviews in the mass media, and political debate. Yet the answer could not have more fundamental implications for the Obama administration’s health care plans. Rights, loosely speaking, are the governing principles of society, the conditions that must be met if human beings are to successfully live together in a social setting. If something—liberty, property, freedom of conscience—is a right, it means that government is properly concerned with securing that right. To say that health care is a right is to say that it is proper for government to be concerned with providing health care. On the other hand, if health care is not a right, then the very idea of government-sponsored health care rests on a faulty assumption
So how did the Congressmen on PJTV, self-declared opponents of the Obama plan, answer the question? Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, described as one of the leading voices in opposition to the Obama health care bill, began his answer, “Health care is something all of us want to be able to access, no question. We want coverage…” He went on to note that this question is not something we think about when we think about health care, and then stopped talking about it. Congressman Tom Price, asked the same question, similarly evaded the issue by noting that “[w]e’re a compassionate nation. The American people want to make certain that folks are able to seek the healthcare they desire.” Faced with the central philosophic question underlying their entire campaign, these two politicians simply avoided confronting the matter.
America needs its lawmakers to approach the issues of the day in fundamental terms, and to base their advocacy on those fundamental judgments. In the case of health care, there is no more fundamental question than whether health care is or is not a right. Any politician that holds a position on health care—and all should—has a responsibility to ask and answer this question in his own mind, to announce his view to his constituents, and to consistently advocate his own position.
For the Undercurrent’s view on this question, see here: