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Change of Heart

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Most doctors dread the notion of a universal health care plan run by the government. However, we must realize that there is something morally objectionable to one of the richest countries in the world having citizens—working parents and their children—who are suffering, and even dying, because they simply cannot afford to get medical attention. Wall Street can get bailed out in a matter of a few weeks. But for more than two decades, our Congress has been unable or unwilling to develop a coherent national healthcare agenda while the numbers of the uninsured continue to swell.

Now more than forty six million Americans are without health care coverage. And these numbers were tabulated before the Great Recession of 2008 hit. How many more, in the current financial crisis, will give up healthcare coverage to keep food on the table or a roof over their heads?
America aspires to greatness, but has fallen short while so many among us are left behind. Lives have been ruined when families must choose between bankruptcy and medical attention.

Our country is rapidly turning into a two-tier society—those who can afford health care and those who can’t. It is as if we’ve grown comfortable, as a nation, to have a third world colony in the midst of a first world country. We’ve grown complacent allowing a group of our countrymen and women to become second-class citizens in our midst, denied basic, fundamental healthcare. We have deprived them of the first and most fundamental of human rights: the right to life.

Sure, the costs of healthcare are rising. The US spends the most money on healthcare of any country in the world. Yet our country is ranked, according to the World Health Organization, thirty-eighth in the world for quality. That means we can look to thirty-seven other countries for ways to make our healthcare more efficient and higher quality. It’s time to look. And look hard. We need to correct this fundamental flaw in our country. We need to do what’s right. Yes, it will be a bureaucratic nightmare to administer such a system. So will bailing out the banks. Yes, it will expensive. But letting families go uncovered, letting disease go untreated, and prevention go unaddressed also carries a cost—not just financial. A moral one, too.

For more reading:
Almanac of Policy Issues: Universal Health Care Coverage

The Washington Post: Universal Health Coverage Attracts New Support - Onetime Foes Become Unlikely Advocates, Citing Rising Costs and Tougher Access

MedScape from WebMD Census Bureau: Number of U.S. Uninsured Rises to 47 Million Americans are Uninsured: Almost 5 Percent Increase Since 2005

Everyday Citizen Health Coverage: Why Are People Uninsured?

CBS News: Diagnosing The Health Care Debate

Stand Up for Health Care Uninsured Americans

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