Part of the healthcare debate in the U.S. has been the question of whether healthcare in a right or a privilege. This is the wrong question, and is often laden with hot-button issues. The real question is what is good for society? My take on it is that there are three basic things that make a society function well:
1. Access to education
2. Access to transportation
3. Access to healthcare
If these things are in place for the population, then you have an educated workforce ready to do the job, able to get to work and healthy enough to contribute to society. You don’t have to decide if healthcare is a right or a privilege, but it becomes obvious that optimal health for all citizens benefits the whole of society. The same is true for education and transportation. If they are available to all, everyone benefits.
The problem in Washington D.C. is that corporations are spending millions on politicians to keep their own interests secure with little regard for the common good. When Medicare “reform” was enacted to cover prescription medications, the primary beneficiaries were the pharmaceutical companies, not the Medicare recipients. The way healthcare “reform” is shaping up now in congress, it will benefit no one except the insurance companies. Insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are no more to be trusted than the “fat cat” bankers when it comes to the good of the people.
I am a healthcare worker in favor of healthcare reform that will allow universal access to healthcare. Since we are seeing ever-increasing unemployment and the advent of the global market, it is wrong to place the onus on the individual people, requiring that they buy health insurance (if you are out of a job, requiring you to buy insurance is not going to solve the healthcare problem). It is also wrong to require businesses to furnish insurance when they must compete with international companies who do not have to figure the cost of healthcare into their product.
Therefore, the amalgam of ideas masquerading on the Hill as healthcare reform should be scrapped. It makes much more sense to extend Medicare to all citizens who are not covered by Medicaid. The current legislative proposal seems to favor the insurance companies, just as the financial “bailout” only favored the banks, and Medicare reform favored the pharmaceutical companies.
One is reminded of the words of Ebenezer Elliot (1781-1849) borrowed by Stephen Schwartz in "Godspell":
When wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
Not kings and lords, but nations,
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
Flowers of Thy heart, O God, are they;
Let them not pass, like weeds, away;
Their heritage a sunless day:
O God, save the people!
We could change the phraseology today to ask, when will we begin to care for people (including the working class, the poor, the sick and unemployed) rather than favoring corporations, banks, and politicians (the kings, lords, thrones, and crowns of our day).