11 Replies Latest reply on Dec 7, 2010 8:05 PM by jthepilot

    A right to health

    jthepilot
      Much of the frustration surrounding  the current  legislation to reform our medical care system is rooted in the lack of an expression of a right to health in the United States.  The framers of the Constitution might have thought to include this in our Bill of Rights - if the concept existed.  In the late 1700's, however, there was no understanding of health.  Beliefs about sickness had no basis in science. The modern practice of curative medicine was years from taking form. There was a nearly total lack of understanding of the importance of sanitation, nutrition, disease or other prevention oriented practices.

      Perhaps a start for our current dilemma would be to establish a basic right to health in the U.S by Constitutional amendment. From this right, we could start to build a rational system of providing all persons with the basics of health- access to primary care, policies to prevent illness and to promote health to the highest attainable status.  The system could be transformed from one that pays for sickness care into one that attempts to improve the health of all citizens and completely reform both the private and government sectors.  We now have the knowledge and ability to elevate our health status, but we are in a system that provides no standing to our health.  Should not health have the same constitutional protection as our values, such as free speech and property?
        • Re: A right to health
          EJG
          Absolutely agree re: establishing a constitutionally framed 'right to health.'  Without
          ones health, after all, the 'pursuit of happiness' may be impossible.
            • Re: A right to health
              snowshoebob007

              Now I have heard of stupid ideas but the "right to health" was never intended by those who framed our nation and wrote the Constitution.  Don't be so misinformed to think that a federal government that is large enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take from you everything you've got! 

              If the "right to health" is added to our Constitution then what about the "right to transporation"?  I would like a Mercedes please.  Make it a black one with a private driver because I must get to and from work.  Also, how about a "right to vacation"?  I would like to travel this great country and get to know all areas of this continent.  I think the "right to travel" should also be added to our Constitution. 

              Where in the heck is personal responsibility?  When are Americans going to look to the example of those who are self reliant?  John Kennedy said "Ask not, what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country."  Stand up Americans.  Wake up and stand up to meet your own personal needs.  You will be sorry if you expect your needs to be met by a government agency.  Just look at the federal health care system already in place; the VA.  This federal health care system has been in place for many many decades.  Is it the stellar health care system in the nation?  Anyone who has had experience with the VA knows this federal health care program is one of the worst in the nation.  So, Americans, keep up your push to get this mediocure health care system for all of us and then you too can wait in line to see the next doctor on duty next month when you come back for your appointment.

               

               

                • Re: A right to health
                  jthepilot
                  It appears that you didn't read my post carefully.  I clearly stated that there was no explicit right to health in our Constitution, and I didn't say anything about a right to economic entitlements.  My point is that our founders stated that men had "certain unalienable rights."  If there had been a concept of health at the time, would not health have been considered as important as life, liberty, and other basic human rights?  My point is that health should be considered a basic human right, and unfortunately our constitution does not clearly establish it as a right.  Health is a different right than a right to health care.  Related, but separate.  My point is that when our government establishes laws, health of each citizen should be among the fundamental considerations.
                  • Re: A right to health
                    HowardChase
                    It's great to know that there are still folks around who think only in terms of ME.  Not only it is about ME and what I have (DON"T TAKE IT AWAY), but assumes that everything is static and unchanging. ie I will never be sick and even if I am sick or require care I will pay for it all.  What a preposterous idea. 
                    By the way we do have a right clean water (health)-Clean air (health), and ?clean food (health)  Your active participation is needed to maintain and enforce these rights since they are constantly being challenged by those who think that you do not nor should have these rights.  Oh by the way you will not be denied access to health care if you cannot pay or would you like us to go back to the good old days or join the group of countries where you have to pay first.
                    HC
                      • Re: A right to health
                        jthepilot
                        There is a difference between "right" and "entitlement."  Rights have more to do with our values.  I raised the question in about having a right to health to explore how people value health as a state that we cherish like liberty, freedom of assembly, free speech, etc.  To what extent should our government have to take steps to protect health for all?
                          • Re: A right to health
                            Keane44
                            As part of protecting the common good and welfare of the people, it seems to me the constitution suggests that health care should be considered a right.  There should be a relationship between health and productivity, right?  The more productive our society, the better for us all.  This must all be balanced against individual rights of course.  So, it is only the access to health care which should be available, in my humble opinion. 
                              • Re: A right to health
                                jthepilot
                                Regarding access, I basically agree with you.  In my view a right to health is not a right to unlimited, free health care.  After all, much of health care is actually "sick care."  What I see is the fundamental need is to consider people's health as a right to be considered in all government actions.  The Constitution protects freedoms like speech, religions, and assembly, and when any law is written that could restrict those freedoms, it may be subject to a test in court.  A right to health would subject laws to the same test.  The laws that influence what we eat, what we breath, and the conditions in which we live should promote good health as one of the basic reasons for a law's existence.
                                Please understand that I am not talking about compelling  individual behavior or making unrestricted mandates for services. Our protection to free speech and assembly does not mandate everyone to speak up on every issue and attend meetings.  It does not mean that the government pays for the newspapers and books we read.
                          • Re: A right to health
                            ldgpangeo
                            To snowshowbob007:  You cite the need for personal responsibility.  Are you (and the rest of us) truly ready to accept the obvious outcome of this position:   If you failed to adequately insure yourself, or overran the lifetime limits of many current policies, are you prepared to either pay it out of pocket or go off and die without sticking the rest of us with your unpaid bills?! 

                            The reality is that very few people would choose the above option and very few of the public would accept the idea of denying expensive medical treatments to someone who can't afford it.  Hence, there is a de facto right to treatment (you have a right to the service "treatment" but not the outcome "health".)

                            We are the last developed nation that has failed to enact some form of universal health care system.  Furthermore, they do it a lower cost and with better public health outcomes.  It's time for us to join the rest of the world.  We can argue about whether the current law is the best -- or even the right -- approach, but it is long past the day when one can honestly say that health care is a personal option that individuals can choose to fund or not.


                              • Re: A right to health
                                JerryD
                                ldgpangeo said...

                                     
                                ...

                                The reality is that very few people would choose the above option and very few of the public would accept the idea of denying expensive medical treatments to someone who can't afford it.  Hence, there is a de facto right to treatment (you have a right to the service "treatment" but not the outcome "health".)

                                ...


                                     
                                                
                                Like I said, this is discussed elsewhere, but I disagree that there is a "right to treatment" The other thread mentions a specific example where  a chronic disease that is treatable leads to death because there is no guarantee for treating this situation, only life-threatening or critical situations.


                                JThePilot, what are you saying? Are you saying that the government needs to address health related issues in all areas (i.e. pollution from coal plants, effects on water from natural gas fracking, etc.)?

                                  • Re: A right to health
                                    jthepilot
                                    Absolutely! And in fact the government does consider people's health in regulating air, water, land, highway safety, etc.  But it isn't consistent as it has to be written into the law.  It isn't grounded in the Consittution, unless the language is interpreted (i.e., promote the general welfare).  I believe that a right to a reasonable health status should be a consideration in all policies and programs.  This does not make it an absolute that trumps all other considerations.  But it should be considered in every decision by the government.  If we build a road, we will affect people's health.  Health should be considered.  If we permit oil drilling in the proximity of acquirers health should be considered.  Government decision making always requires consideration of a range of rights and duties.  People's health ought to be among them.