Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Reform: Not perfect, but a start

Rosemary Flanigan
March 23, 2010

Healthcare is a right. Rights come about when a claim is made to a vulnerable item in a society, which item is a means for responsible action. The right of persons to food, clothing, shelter, and adequate employment is well known.

These rights belong to persons simply because they are persons, not as a matter of contract or merit or law. When one considers the vagaries of nature as it affects people’s health and well-being rendering some people dependent on healthcare, how can one deny that such people ought to assert their right to such care as needed.

Our healthcare “system” has been in need of reform for many years. Imagine a wealthy society that permits over 47 million of its citizens to be without health insurance. This is not merely a financial problem nor even a political one; such a “system” presents us with a moral problem—a problem of justice. And ours is a country that promises “liberty and justice for all.”

When I was a young Sister, no religious group that I knew had health insurance; we either paid for our care or received charity care. Then in the early 70’s, the federal government offered to include us in Social Security and hence into Medicare and Medicaid—at a price. And we borrowed the money to secure it. I cannot imagine living without insurance in today’s world.

The reform is not perfect. There ought to be universal coverage, but this bill is a step towards that. The status quo is intolerable; we must escape from individualistic thinking to broadening our concept of persons as beings-with-others, social beings, and face the responsibilities we have for one another.


*Podcast: Health Reform: An Ethical Analysis, The Bioethics Channel, 19 minutes 17 seconds
*Immediate effects of health reform bill, Kaiser Health News, March 22
*House Passes Historic Healthcare Reform, MedPage Today, March 21
*Health reform a hot topic in bioethics circles, Wall Street Journal, March 19



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