Constitutional right to healthcare long overdue
In President Franklin Roosevelt’s final address to Congress, he articulated the need for a second bill of rights. One of these rights was the right to adequate medical care, but what exactly is a right to adequate medical care?
Many advocates for a constitutional right to medical care or healthcare believe in a Medicare-for-All option provided by the federal government. Supporters, like presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, believe this is one of the only economically viable options to achieve the goal of this proposed constitutional right. It requires raising taxes in the hopes of providing for as many Americans as possible.
Other supporters just believe healthcare should be a right guaranteed to citizens for free. These supporters include students in the medical field who have the ambition to provide such care to the impoverished.
“Everyone deserves to have healthcare whether they have the money or not,” said biology junior Sara Abouelniaj. “Once I get to be a successful doctor, I’m planning to give people who cannot afford healthcare [the] healthcare that they need for free.”
The concept of the right to adequate medical care seems well intentioned, and it has already been recognized since 1948 to be a universal human right by the United Nations. So why has the United States of America been one of the only major industrialized nations in the world to define medical care as a privilege and not a constitutional right?
The simple answer is that it creates a conflict of economic interests.
Many free market advocates have vigorously denied that it is the state’s responsibility to provide medical care. Some view it as a right that will eventually lead to a monopolistic form of healthcare. Others argue, like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, that this right will force healthcare providers to provide services that they would otherwise not want to provide with from their own free will. Some of these believers include economics students.
“I don’t believe it is constitutional to force one individual’s work to be given to someone else at a price they don’t get to set,” said economics junior Stephen Nunez. “I believe in private, mutually beneficial contracts; no monopolistic force [in healthcare].”
While advocates for the right to adequate medical care such as myself believe it is a right long overdue, it is important to have a real discussion on this issue. It is good to have opposing views on this topic because they can provide the limitations of our goal of everyone being provided with efficient medical care.
It is not as though advocates for private health insurance are against people having adequate medical care. In fact, I believe it is quite the opposite.
They would rather have people be able to choose their options from people who, in their view, have chosen to provide healthcare on their own standards; not the government’s.
Many advocates for private insurance, who are not otherwise affiliated with private insurance companies, are skeptical of the government’s efficiency when it comes to providing such a responsibility to its citizens.
Those who oppose the right to healthcare have a very interesting view of its definition. As I would define it, it would be similar in concept to the right to counsel (which is already provided by the United States Constitution). If you are unable to afford private health insurance or private medical care, then the state will provide for you.
Also, in response to those who question whether it is the government’s responsibility to provide this to their citizens, look no further than the words of our nation’s four-time elected president, Franklin Roosevelt:
“Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”
Opinion columnist Samuel Pichowsky is a political science sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]