We need to decide what type of society we want to be. Do we want to continue promoting values that further divide us into the “haves” and the “have nots”? Do we want to direct our resources into further segmenting our people into upper and lower classes? Or do we still hold dear that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable rights”? Minus good health, these three principles are most certainly compromised. One straightforward method of paving the way to equal opportunity is ensuring excellent health care for all.
Sadly, in this country health care is often viewed from a business perspective. The bottom line for the insurance industry is its profit margin, not excellent health care for all. Three years after the end of World War II, when the country was still reeling from the war’s devastation, the United Kingdom made a major investment in its mightiest resource — its people. The National Health Service, the world’s oldest single-payer health care system, brought medical care to all.
Nearly two months ago, our House of Representatives voted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and included a measure ensuring tax cuts of hundreds of billions over 10 years, most of which will go to the already wealthy. Included in this “investment” are cuts to Medicaid, defunding Planned Parenthood, lifetime limits on coverage, waivers for Affordable Care Act-designated essential services and exclusion of pre-existing conditions. Maternity care, essential in ensuring the health of future generations, is no longer mandatory.
Perhaps because of citizen outcry against the House vote on health care, 13 men in the Senate met secretly to modify the health care proposal. This new version continues to exclude far too many from adequate health care. Let us not forget, one of the most important lessons history teaches is that groups whose basic needs are not met will rise up. We recently applauded the phrase, “What happens to one of us happens to all of us.” How will we take care of our citizens who are left behind with the current version of health care “reform”? Can the fair-minded among us all agree that in the 21st century, excellent health care is an unalienable right?