Posted by Charity on March 24th, 2006

Since only one person gave me a reason why conservatives are regarded as not caring about the poor, I will address that issue first: the right to healthcare.

I would like to hear more, so if anyone else wants to explain why they think conservatives do not care about the poor/only care about the rich, please post your comments on the “Conservatives don’t care about the poor” post, two posts below this one.

The Right to Healthcare

A right is something you have the freedom to do (freedom of speech, right to vote, right to remain silent, etc.) or something you are protected from having done to you (freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, etc.). A service provided to you by another person is not a “right,” it’s a service.

You know, come to think of it, they might be on to something here. Maybe services should be rights. My husband had to pick up a second job last fall so that we could afford snow tires and new brakes. We need a safe, working vehicle so he can go to work. That’s a need, so the service should be a right, right? How about universal car repairs?

Isn’t it the same thing? At one point, he was working almost 60 hours a week, my two-year-old cried himself to sleep at night because he missed daddy, and I was exhausted from having to pick up the chores he usually does. Meanwhile, there are CEOs making millions of dollars. To them, the hundreds of dollars we needed for car repairs are just a drop in the bucket. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? It’s our right to have a safe vehicle. We can’t help it that we can’t afford it. Those CEOs should pay their fair share to provide us with this right. Why should we have to struggle when they have too much excess income?

Please know that I don’t really look at it that way, but that is often how the arguments go. How far could we go with this “right to services”? What else is a right?

Anytime you are giving someone a “right” to a free or subsidized service, it is depriving others of their property – in this case, the taxpayers who have to give their money, which was earned through their own hard work, and the healthcare providers who have to provide the services at lower, government-imposed prices. Property rights are in the Bill of Rights. They are fundamental to our constitution, yet they are being eroded all the time by big government in the name of these so-called rights.

The other point here, perhaps more important to this discussion, is that conservatives do not want to deprive anyone of access to healthcare. Last time I checked, poor people already get government provided healthcare. Not only that, but everyone has the same access to healthcare services and insurance coverage. No one is being denied access to healthcare.

The objection most conservatives have to the notion of a right to healthcare is based on the fact that we believe in FREEDOM. The balance between freedom and government control is a zero-sum game. Every time we give more control to the government, we lose more freedom. It really is that simple.

I really wish I had more time to get into this right now because it is a complex issue, but I will stop here and let you take over with comments.

31 Responses to “The right to healthcare”

  1. On the Children’s Defense Fund website, it says that of the 9.3 million children uninsured, 69.5% live in families with incomes above poverty and 53.2% live in a 2-parent household. These children are without insurance because their parents are choosing to not provide them with insurance. How many of them so you think have cable, internet, cell phones, or other non-essential things, but choose to not provide their own children with proper medical coverage?

    The worst thing of all is the fact that there are 5.8 million children who are eligible for government health insurance, yet are not enrolled. If these children do not have healthcare, it is because they have negligent parents.

    And not all uninsured people go without care. Some people opt to pay out of pocket or use some other method.

    On another note, I thought I would add that according to Vermont Livable Wage Campaign, “A livable wage is the hourly wage or annual income sufficient to meet a family’s basic needs plus all applicable Federal and State taxes. Basic needs include food, housing, child care, transportation, health care, clothing, household and personal expenses, insurance, and 5% savings.”

    Tell me then, how is car repair any different than healthcare? They are both listed as basic needs.

    In regard to cost, there is no need for government run healthcare like Canada has. One solution, offered by Hardy Machia when he ran for governor, is the Swiss system where they purchase private insurance policies for medicaid users and uninsured. According to his website , “this will save $114 million, keep medicaid solvent, provide universal coverage for all Vermonters, and restore some of the benefits of free markets.”

    “The Swiss Universal Health Care System is also referred to as Consumer Driven Health Care. There is a safety net so the poor are covered, but the poor are covered in the most efficient way possible through free markets. You might think of it as food stamps for health care. We don’t have a government farm, government truck company, and government store to provide food for the poor. What we do is give people who qualify for food stamps a subsidy so they can go to a privately run store to purchase their own food.”

    Sorry, Canada’s is not the best model.

  2. “Let me remind you that while Canadians may seek MRIs in the US, there are busloads of elderly Americans going north for cheaper perscriptions.”

    Yeah, let’s all rush to the lowest common denominator.

    As you point out (kind of), I currently do pay for health care for the uninsured through my health care premiums. But I also receive decent care here in Vermont, in part because I pay those premiums. If single payer is implemented in this one state, I will receive nothing for the extra tax dollars, because I will have to go to Boston for decent health care.

  3. Yeah Charity, you’re a couple of years ahead on the Progressive timetable. They haven’t even printed up their little checklist signs with “free cars for all” at the bottom.

    The only single payer proposal I’ve seen locally was Clavelle’s, and that was cribbed from Maine’s failed plan. He just forgot about the tens of millions in startup costs, rendering it completely infeasible. Not unsurprisingly, his supporters didn’t seem to care.

  4. In a perfect world, the government would not take care of the poor – private charities and/or churches would. We don’t live in a perfect world. We have given up our economic freedom in exchange for a welfare system provided by the government. Under that reality, yes I support the government paying for insurance for the poor. Show me who doesn’t.

    “Nobody’s gonna die if their car doesn’t work. I don’t understand how you can think they are the same.”

    Nobody’s going to die just because they don’t have health insurance either. They are the same because they are both services provided by another person.

  5. Primary and secondary education is a service that the courts have interpreted as a right.

    I don’t believe we have a right to unrationed health care. (In vitro treatment for women over 40, quadruple by-pass surgeries for women over 80, viagra for old geezers and so on.)

    I’d like to see Feds/States continue to provide coverage to the poor and for both Feds/States to offer tax credits to assist the working poor in affording coverage which they could use to then buy into the State’s insurance program or to purchase private coverage.

    States could also cap/restrict future premium increases to prevent private insurers from dumping the chronically ill on the state insurance plan. They could also mandate portability. (For example, if I lose my job, I should be able to purchase an individual coverage at no more than X% higher than my prior group coverage rate. Or, if I develop a chronic illness, my premiums may never increase Y% over the introductory premium offered to new enrollees.)

    I’d also like to see mandated coverage. Individuals would need to show proof of catastrophic coverage to receive a tax refund or take advantage of tax credit. (The cost of providing care to the uninsured are currently borne by all.)

    The Fed/States should also be required to fully reimburse medical care providers and we should be taxed accordingly. Cost-shifting onto the privately insured is driving more individuals and employers to drop coverage.

    On health care, conservatives aren’t looking to stick it to the poor, they’re just looking for a mix of privately/publicly funded health care. A healthy population, like a well-educated population, benefits us all.

  6. Anonymous, you have many good points, so don’t take this as an attack on you, but it’s interesting that you brought up education. With education, we decided to give our freedom to the government. Now the government has taken total control over education. The parents do not have the right to educate their own children as they see fit, unless the government says it’s okay. That applies to public schools, private schools, and homeschooling – all are totally controlled by the government. They decide what’s best for our children and what they provide to us is in the way of schools is mediocre at best. Adding insult to injury, the cost is outpacing inflation by at least 2-to-1 yearly, usually much more.

    The public education system is happy providing low quality results at an over-inflated price. When we opt to provide our own educational opportunities for our children – while still paying for a failed public system – the government still totally controls our choices. Why on earth would we want to do that to healthcare?

  7. Very good discussion… I will add a couple of my thoughts.

    I believe that most things that are “given” for free become taken for granted and often abused. This is already the case with healthcare. At one time people were far more careful with their health to try to prevent larger health problems later. People have taken our system for granted and have abused it. Also, where do you draw the line? As scientific advancements continue, there will be more and more medical procedures that will come out and will be increasingly expensive.

    Also, what right does someone have to force someone to provide products and services to another? Isn’t that kind of like slavery? I think most people here are very generous and would be willing to help another in need without a gun to the head.

    A rule of thumb I use to decide if something’s a right or not is to imagine two people on an island… they are the only two people on the island. Say their names are Tom and Joe. Can the supposed “right” be maintained without taking another’s right? If not, it’s not a right. Take healthcare… Does it seem right for Tom to force Joe to provide healthcare to Tom?

  8. Well said.

  9. But what sacrifices would you make for your son? Would you ever take a job in retail, say at Lenscrafter, working weekends and evenings, bored to tears, but nonetheless a job that while not highly renumerative offered a benefits package that was in the best interest of your family? What choices would you make to ensure your child was never denied treatment?

    I’m fairly certain I don’t want my medical care provider to a be a public employee. I fully support safety nets but I want choice in insurance coverage and health care providers. I’m looking forward to adventures in medical tourism in my dottering years – Bangalore here I come.

    Please note, German doctors were on strike today, and England, they’re contemplating cutting funding of medical training, they’re forecasting job losses and patients are being denied drugs. Note, NH deficits are far worse than admitted, “the spiralling debts come despite the total NHS budget having more than doubled from £34.7 billion in 1997-98 to £76.4 billion this year.”

    I know we have an acute problem in this country. This afternoon, the Drudge Report brought to our attention a tape of an 68-year old indigant woman being dropped off on skid row still wearing her hospital gown. This is wrong and I do care.

  10. “I wouldn’t think twice about putting a gun to your head”

    Your kid would never be denied health care in our society, I thought that had been established. You can’t possibly be attempting to relate your statement to Jeremy’s point so I’m not sure what your point is unless you’re just expressing some “kill the rich guy” fantasy.

    Socialized medicine in one state, surrounded by states without it, would never work. The delta in quality of health care between Vermont and its neighbors would drive out all but the most menial jobs. This during a time when the state is trying to attract higher-paying business.

    Then of course there’s the small matter of an actual plan. Bernie argues for socialized medicine on a national scale, like he argues for a lot of things that will never happen. The only relevant discussion we can have here is about the system in Vermont, and I’ve not seen a specific single payer plan proposed. If you have one you can point to and say, “this is what I want,” please do. Otherwise your argument is the equivalent of arguing for a $30/hr minimum wage, sounds nice but it’s much easier said than done.

  11. “I can’t?”

    Not unless you completely misunderstood his analogy. And the fact that you made no attempt to clarify would be further support for my theory. Why don’t you explain how my arguments aren’t smart.

  12. I love this discussion. I’m with Charity – nobody is going to be denied emergenecy care, but free public health care is not an inalienable right. Trying to establish such a system would drive people from the state.

    I have a doctor friend who works in pediatrics in VT. As it is, she barely breaks even each month because she doesn’t make any money seeing medicaid patients. If she saw nobody but medicaid patients, she wouldn’t even be able to pay her overhead and the state would lose a valuable servce (she’s the only children’s doctor in the VT in her specific field).

    I challenge anyone to explain to me how this scenario is better for the residents of our state.

  13. “I don’t feel like it.”

    Kind of frustrating when you can’t just delete the entire thread, isn’t it?

  14. “It’s not frustrating.”

    Not sure why you would bother posting terse little comments declaring your unwillingness/inability to reply then, but I’ll take your word for it.

    “I agree single payer should be national and not state by state.”

    I guess this thread is unanimous as relates to Vermont, imagine that! On a related not, supporters of national single payer are advised to check with Tom Messner about the ETA of a brisk day in hell.

  15. In an perfect world, no one would ever get sick so we wouldn’t need health care. :-)

    Our government regulated health care system is broken. Replacing one government regulated system with another is not going to reduce the costs substantially, nor improve the quality. I wouldn’t trust a turning over all of our health care industry to the same government that runs Medicaid at a huge deficit, has us in a global war on terror, taken us to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korean, Vietnam, and created the social security Ponzi scheme.

    The average price of health insurance in Vermont is $4800. The average price nationwide is about $1900. Can we reduce the price of health insurance in Vermont? You betcha. It requires restoring competition in Vermont. It requires repealing failed health care regulations of shall issue and community ratings. We should be able to buy health insurance from Pennsylvania for $1800, just like we can buy soft pretzels and cheese steaks.

    The Swiss system meets the needs of their poor at a much lower cost than our system, and 99% of people in Switzerland were covered by insurance prior to them making it mandatory for everyone about 20 years ago. The last 1% weren’t the poor or neglectful people, but people that made an economic decision on where their money was going to be spent.


  16. I want to agree with Jeremey, Charity and others on rights.

    A right is unalienable. You have it, and it isn’t given to you. You can’t force someone to pay for your rights.

    Health care is an entitlement.

    Haik if you want to shoot the doctor, then you child will die. This is lose-lose outcome.

    You will be much better off exchanging services with the doctor. Use your gun to shoot a quail or deer for dinner for the doctor. This is a win-win. The doctor gets dinner, and your child is healed.

    Health care is too damn expensive in Vermont. It is a great shame that so many people can no longer afford it. This seems to be the direction Vermont is going. Many Vermonters can no longer afford health care, education, or homes. Each of these problems can be fixed by the government getting out of the way.

    Grand Isle has no high school. I could open a high school here this fall at half of the cost of what we are currently paying per student, but I need a waiver from numerous regulations that are in place. The parents, students, and teachers wouldn’t have any problem with my school, but the bureaucrats and politicians would. This needs to be fixed.


  17. I can’t believe that I of all people am saying this, but by definition, I don’t think healthcare is a right.

    Here are my thoughts…..I believe all Americans should have access to healthcare, and affordable health care at that. There are too many people out there whose financial futures have been ruined because they needed emergency surgery and got stuck with a six figure bill. Granted, one’s health is more important than anything, but being in debt for life kinda stinks too.

    Now, Canada for example has universal health care, but many complain about high taxes and tough access. Would we as Americans be willing to see our taxes go up? Would there be good access to doctors and specialists? To be a conspiracy theorist here, would the HMO’s allow this country to take trillions of dollars out of their pockets?

    Those are my thoughts…..


  18. “If you have a problem with that, I suggest you take it up with Thomas Jefferson.”

    How about John Locke, who actually originated the phrase, stating that “no one ought to harm another” in these things. It is quite different to take a man’s life than it is to prevent nature or the man himself from taking his life.

    The inalienable right to life in the constitution no more refers to healthcare than the right to the “pursuit of happiness” refers to being given anything you might need to make you happy. It just means that no one can actively take those things away from you.

  19. None of the rambling, amateurish socialist manifesto that you just wasted your time posting has anything to do with your astoundingly poor attempt to use the constitution to justify your contention that everyone has a “right” to healthcare. That’s what I was responding to. We have already established (again and again) that no hospital would deny any dying person health care.

    Someone will, however, have to pay for it eventually. If that system doesn’t suit you, Canada is 45 minutes up 89. See you back here next time you need an MRI.

  20. Whatever chief, either way that approach didn’t last long, did it?

  21. So Terry Schiavo had an inalienable right to Life per Jefferson? Or, is it a situational right?

  22. I’ll ignore for now your complete mischaracterization of conservatism and address your point.

    You said it yourself, Haik, “At our core humans are social animals.” Therefore, we do not need the government to compel us to be social.

    You are mixing two different things – what people should do and what government should make them do. Just because the government doesn’t force us to do something does not mean we cannot or will not do it on our own.

    There will always be people who actually could just sit there and watch another die, but the vast majority will not. We will, as compassionate beings, care for one another. When the government steps in and forces us to act a certain way, it is an infringement of our rights, not to mention that the incompetence and inefficiency of bloated bureaucracy becomes a factor.

    You have to take the entire conservative philosophy as a whole, not just cherry-pick the parts that support your argument. It is true that I do not support the government-run social programs. Does that mean I think poor/needy people should get no help? No. You have to also consider that private charities are more efficient and effective at providing services to those in need, which is why that is a better way to provide services.

    There are two different philosophies at work here and each has a different way of looking at the roll of government. The liberal/progressive/socialist side seems to imply that people cannot do things for themselves and they are willing to give their rights to the government, in exchange for the government providing them with everything.

    I reject that. I want to retain my rights and my freedoms, not give my power to the government. I believe that people are capable of taking care of themselves and each other without the government telling them how to do it.

  23. “you F*CKIN IDIOT!!”
    “Go to Hell.”

    If the only responses you can muster to a rational deconstruction of your arguments are these childish outbursts, maybe you should consider the “preview, deep breath, count to ten” method of posting. Just a thought. Because this garbage is just rude to our gracious host.

  24. “I invite you to never use the roads or the internet, rely on the FDA or call the police.”

    Wow, the government is my ISP? Who knew.

    But I completely see what you’re saying, because we all know that there’s no difference between a brain surgeon and the guy who paints lines on the road.

  25. Oh, I see the big picture. Let me try to explain this to you. There are things that the government needs to do. These are the things that people cannot do on their own. These things are enumerated in the Constitution.

    Article 1, Section 8, lays out the duties of Congress. One of them is the establishment of post roads. Another is to provide for the common defense. Another is to regulate inter-state commerce – which is how they justify regulatory agencies such as the FDA.

    The local governments can do other things that the federal government can’t, as long as they do not violate our rights. (Bear in mind, how our government works now is not the same as how it is supposed to work. Now the feds do way more than they have the right to.)

    I support the government providing services that the private sector cannot, things that are for common benefit – roads, police, fire department, and many other things. There are also many things that I do not think the government should do. These are things that require us to give our rights to the government and/or things that can be done better by the private sector.

    Back to the original conversation: healthcare.

    That is something that the private sector can provide and more importantly, an area where we do not want to give our rights away to the government.

    Once the government is charged with delivering a service, they get to call the shots. Look at anything the government does. They make all the rules – even if you chose not to use their service. I chose to home educate my children because the public schools were not doing a good enough job. I am choosing not to use their service, but the government stills has a tremendous amount of control over my home study program. You have no idea of the kind of control they have.

    Do you really want the government having control over your healthcare decisions?

  26. Bob the Optimizer
    March 27th, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Anonymous said…

    So Terry Schiavo had an inalienable right to Life per Jefferson? Or, is it a situational right?

    Well said. I’m glad you brought that up. I noticed Haik didn’t respond to that one. I have an idea why he didn’t. Liberals love to talk about how ‘no one should go without….blah blah blah’. But the reality is, you can’t give everyone everything.
    Socialized medicine would be nothing more than a budget line item, and you’d have to put limits on the system. Most likely, the govt would collect and analyze statistical data and then budget procedures accordingly (7.2 cases of ovarian cancer per town annually, or whatever). If you’re number 8, you get the honor of waiting until the next fiscal year. (Cheer up, your the first in line now!) My guess is some of the best places to cut expenses are end of life care for the elderly and hospice care for people in ‘Permanent Vegetative States’ (which seem to be not-so-permanent in the news lately). The argument would be something like ‘why waste money on people who will never recover, or who are dying anyway when we can help more young people?’.
    Maybe we should call that Socialist Darwinism!

  27. Bob the Optimizer
    March 27th, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    Here are a few questions supporters of Universal Health Care should be asking:

    Why did the Canadian Supreme Court disagree with the government’s argument the being on a list was the same thing as receiving prompt healthcare?

    Why are cancer death rates higher under socialized medicine?
    Why are there so many Indian doctors in England?
    Why was Mike Myers able to make fun of British peoples’ teeth in the Austin Powers movies. Don’t they have dentists over there?
    Would I want a government surgeon making 45k/yr performing bypass surgery on me, or the private surgeon making 150k/yr?

    Ask yourself this one only if you checked the links above:
    What was I thinking supporting Universal Health Care???

  28. I love you people. This is so much better than watching TV.

  29. Too much information!! Brain explosion!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!

    Just one other comment. Someone said something about an MRI, and I believe that individual was making a comparision as to how long it takes to get one compared to Canada. I don’t know about Canada, but it took me three weeks to get mine done on a knee I could barely walk on. Out of curiosity, how long would it take in Canada?(Scope eventually done, thanks for the repairs Doc.)

  30. That’s annoying that it took you so long to get an MRI. When I first started getting migraines, I had an MRI done like two days after the doctor ordered it. I guess they take headaches of that magnitude very seriously. Of course, that was in early 2001, so maybe things have gotten worse.

    I don’t know how reliable this website is, but it says, “In Canada there is a 7-9 month wait for MRI’s.” Holy cow!

  31. There are many people I am sure that abuse the system; however, there are many that really need help. I volunteer at a domestic violence shelter and have a young lady I am working with that has been severely beaten. As a result, she has a detached retina and lost most vision in that eye. The ER said there was nothing they could do for her as they said she needed a specialist. I have been on the phoone for two days trying to find this victim of crime some medical help. She had to leave any money she had behind. People say, she can get Medicaid- but no, she doesn’t have kids or isn’t disabled, so she is uneligible. I have called medical schools and they have told me that they have discontined their indigant health care programs. This woman has really fallen through the cracks in the system. I just wanted you all to know there are people who really do need help.