LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Access is morally right
September 21, 2009 · Updated 12:45 PM
To the editor:
Many years ago when I first started my career, a doctor diagnosed an illness in me that I resented and that I believed would cost a lot of money to cure.
When I commented on the cost he said, “You can’t buy your health.” I resented that and immediately decided that I didn’t like him very much. He was correct about my illness and he helped me live a better life.
And he was right about the part about buying my health. But then, as now, I was and am fortunate to have adequate health insurance. That was before Medicare existed and certainly before I could have qualified for it even if it had existed.
But then, because I had good health insurance and received and listened to his advice, I survived to take advantage of the Medicare I qualify for now.
And yet, there is a debate over healthcare for all. We hear polemics about the amount it will cost, although many can’t afford it now. What better way to spend our resources than toward having a truly healthy citizenry. Such expenditures can be rewarding economically and clearly justified morally.
But some in town hall meetings and elsewhere shout and rail against government-sponsored healthcare. At first I found it mysterious that many people seemed to be protesting against improved healthcare. I asked myself, why would citizens who were and are receiving government sponsored and run healthcare, Medicare, would protest against having such care for others?
And then various sources pointed out through interviews and in live broadcasts that many of these folks failed to recognize that Medicare is a federal, government administered, program.
Such a lack of knowledge cannot explain why a vocal minority would choose to disrupt and destroy a clearly necessary democratic debate. What does such a display of anti-democratic behavior gain any of us? Is it fear of change? I honestly don’t know.
I do know that resorting to shouting down legitimate debate can only lead to mob behavior and an apparent desire for authoritarian rule. Why else engage in attempts to dehumanize and demonize those who disagree? Using terms such as “fascist”, “Nazi,” “commie” and other such terms against one’s opponents certainly makes it much easier to commit violence once the dehumanization has occurred. To me, such behavior is not, or should not be, the American Way.
The United States Constitution contains at least three provisions that would support government action to help provide healthcare for those who cannot afford or gain it otherwise.
A phrase in the Preamble to the Constitution states that one of the goals for the nation to “promote the general welfare ... to ourselves and our Posterity.”
In Article I, Section 8, clause 18 the Constitution provides for Congress “To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution” the powers delegated to Congress and to all branches of government. And finally, Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states that the government not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Therefore, it seems to me that if we are to truly promote the general welfare then it would surely be necessary and proper to assure each United States citizen equal access to basic quality healthcare through whatever means necessary, whether it be through some government option of in another way. For I agree with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy that quality basic healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. Such access is not only morally right and socially necessary, it is also economically vital.
George H. Westergaard