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The moral imperative for health care

Moral purity has been the catalyst of change throughout the history of the United States of America. This path has not always been on the conscious level of our nation’s leaders, but it’s defined what the United States represents within the rest of the world.

The land of the free and the home of the brave. A line from our very own National Anthem and one that sums up what America is all about. Our country is known for its progressiveness.

The track of this country’s very own history is what makes the mountainous divides that we have put between ourselves concerning health care even more trivial.

We all are aware that much of 2009 has been spent arguing over the issue of whether health care reform, especially the public option, is necessary and beneficial towards the advancement of the United States. There are those that say yes, it is the only way to go, and there are those that say that no, the government is trying to dictate our lives.

Let us step back and evaluate the situation. What do we know of the current system? What we know is that somewhere around the vicinity of 46 million people, according to the White House’s statistics, currently do not have health insurance. This is because they are not eligible to be covered or they do not have enough money to buy health insurance. It is often these people who cannot afford health insurance that are in the direst need of its services.

We also know that at the current rate of progression, health care costs will be rising in the coming years. This, in turn, will lead to health care expenditures rising and affecting even more of our already wounded economy.

This is unacceptable. Not only are we not supporting the very people that make up our country, we are crippling our country unnecessarily.

How can we call ourselves the country of equality when we can’t respect a fellow man’s health? How can we turn our backs on our brothers and sisters when they need someone to lean on the most? How can we silently listen to and ignore the suffering screams of a fellow person in need?

We are more compassionate than that. I know we are. I have seen our country come together and bond in times of pain. We have lived as a country of one instead of a country of 50 so many times that I cannot and will not accept the reasoning that now we can’t help a countryman stand.

We know the bill that is currently in the Senate proposes health care that would cover most people in this country. You would not have to worry about being uninsured if you are unemployed, or about not being able to afford health insurance. You wouldn’t have to worry about what would happen if you are seriously injured but can’t afford to go to the hospital. In turn, this would lessen that financial burden of rising health care costs.

For those that oppose health care reform, I have a question: What are you going to do once you graduate college and are no longer covered by your parents’ insurance? Do you have a plan? Are you going to be able to get a job right away that has that benefit? Many of us are not sure about any of this. Once we are off of our parent’s plan, will we be able to get coverage? If this health care bill is passed, we would be covered.

For those that reason the issue of health care reform is all about the government trying to dictate every action that we partake in, let me say this: I will respect your feelings, but I must disagree with them.

Just because a government tries to be a little proactive in your life does not always mean that they are trying to control your life. The overall function of the government is not here to tell us what to do. Rather, they are here to serve as a shoulder to lean on when we need their support.

Many of the social programs of the past 50 years serve this purpose. If a person needs help, there are resources available to help them. They are not meant to be shoved down that person’s throat.

Health care reform is not just a political issue, though its fate is ultimately controlled in the realm of politics. No, health care reform is a moral issue as well. The consequences of the actions that we take on this matter do not fall on anyone but ourselves.

Again, we fall back to the question of where our morals are situated and what equality means to all of us. From where I stand today, health care reform is necessary. It is the right thing to do.

Matt Kushi is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at mkushi@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “The moral imperative for health care”
  1. Ben Rudnick says:

    I can’t believe I have to post this yet again. I feel like this is the 10th time I have had to remind others of these facts. Ok, ok, I know, it is only the third time, but it has gotten to the point that I am simply cutting and pasting a response to a previous posting about health insurance.
    There are not 47 million people in the US without health insurance. I refer you to analysis done by FactCheck.org:
    “About 9.1 million of the uninsured have household incomes greater than $75,000, and 10 percent (about 4.7 million) make more than 400 percent of the federal poverty threshold, according to KFF. In 2007, the most recent year of Census statistics, a family of four at 400 percent of the poverty level would have a household income of $84,812 or more.” – so we’re down to less than 40 million when you subtract the people who could buy their own insurance but refuse to.
    “Many of the uninsured already are eligible for public coverage. That’s true – NIHCM found that in 2006, 12 million of the uninsured were eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (formerly SCHIP) but were not enrolled.” – so now we’re at about 26 million who require assistance that is not already available, right?
    Then, you still have to subtract some number of illegal immigrants who are not supposed to be eligible for assistance under any of the currently proposed legislation. Unfortunately, nobody can seem to agree on that number, but it is somewhere between 6 million and 12 million.
    So now there are somewhere between 14 and 20 million people who don’t have insurance, but wait, remember that the original number was for the total number of people who did not have insurance for some part of the year, even if that was only a 1 day period in between their old employer’s coverage lapsing and their new employer’s coverage kicking in. To be sure, it is likely that very few people are lucky enough to have things work out that well for them, but it is clear that if we were to solve the “portability” issue, and ensure that people could keep their health insurance as they change jobs, then another huge number of people would not longer be counted in the original number. So assuming we address the portability problem, how many people are left that really need help to get health insurance? Why don’t we try taking care of that first, and then see where we stand before we commit trillions of dollars to a massive series of government bureaucracies with no real idea of how it will ultimately impact our economy or our society?
    I recognize the moral character behind your argument, but that does not mean you can get away from the facts. You claim that the current health insurance proposal will result in lower costs, but there is absolutely no evidence that this will be the case. In fact, a recent report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an office of the Department of Health and Human Services, predicts that the health insurance reform bill passed by the House will raise costs by some $289 billion, and there is no indication that the bill being debated in the Senate is any better.
    Clearly, all these numbers are open to questioning, but that is the whole point of resisting the demand that the government solve the problem. In fact, there is no evidence that what they are proposing will actually make things better. Yet, there is every reason to believe, based on numerous historical examples, that some of the things that Democrats refuse to consider will help lower the costs of health insurance so that more people can afford it. Take tort reform, for example, and the fact that when real tort reform was enacted in California and Texas it led to significant savings on health insurance premiums. Don’t mistake what I am saying, I do not think that tort reform is some silver bullet, but before we enact the monstrosity of a bill that the Senate is contemplating, we should at least be asking why they are so reticent to include ideas that have actually worked in the past!

    Ben Rudnick
    Collegian Columnist

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