opinion   |  column

COLUMN: Health care is a right



Let’s talk about playing with fire, or, more specifically, human life.

Legitimate concerns about the future of health care continue as Republicans plan to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law. In the face of potentially lost health insurance for millions, American history reminds us of a similar time when the federal government was met with the moral question of prioritizing health and safety.

In 1973, the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control issued “America Burning,” a report on the literal burning of American homes and citizens. This report contained a recommendation that a new federal fire safety program administer lower-level entities and private organizations in reducing the number of deaths and 
injuries.

Not until federal leaders recognized a desperate need for a cohesive system was a program created. Previously, it hadn’t been a federal-level priority.

However, in the face of irreparable damage and human death, it was a problem Congress could no longer ignore. Today Americans’ guaranteed access to universal health care poses a similar question of morality.

An estimated 18 million people could potentially lose their health coverage within the first year after the Republican-majority Congress repeals “Obamacare,” according to the Congressional Budget Office. As threats of revoked coverage loom, more Americans are coming forward in opposition to repeal via emails, phone calls, protests and town halls.

“Obamacare” was contested from the beginning. People cried socialism. Insurers and employers were taken aback by the new challenges of the federal statue. Fervent Obama 
opponents steamed at anything associated with the former president, much less coined by him.

Now there is an expectation among citizens that the government will include health insurance in its welfare initiatives, and it’s not a greedy one.

We no longer question whether some form of health care provision will be issued to everyone; rather, we now ask how it should be distributed.

Bipartisan legislation continues to broaden the scope of coverage as widely and effectively as possible in spite of the repeal-and-not-replace motives of our current Congress and what President Trump’s empty promises of enacting “something great” might suggest.

Universal health care is not idealistic or partisan, and it’s certainly not a wet dream of the liberal agenda. The future of health care is relevant to every person, whether they’re a single-payer advocate, a privatization supporter or Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.

History will remember the legacy of health care in the United States as a progression toward ensuring that all are entitled to peace of mind in spite of congressional gambling, Republican elite obstruction and stigma toward illness and disease.

People are no longer willing to except dismissal from the government upon removal of their insurance or be caricatured as feeding out of the government’s hand.

Universal access to health care is a basic right of humanity, and the question of how to move forward is a moral one. Whether you answer it correctly is up to you.

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