Posted: 06/30/12 16:32
by Alan Anderson
Much has been said about the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare. The discussion has focused on Chief Justice Roberts participation in the majority to uphold the law, partly by suggesting the mandate was enforceable by a "tax", but also saying the Commerce Clause didn't apply in this case and further suggesting that the states could not coerced by the federal government to withhold all Medicaid funding if the state decided to opt out of the law. Missing in the discussion was any reasonable attempt to justify the need for the law or the serious consequences for people, especially poor people, if the law is implemented as approved by the Court.
Consider this. Brutal dictator Bashar Al-Assad of Syria has murdered more than 10,000 of his people in recent months, attempting to suppress a public uprising against his rule. He has had his soldiers literally gun down men, women, and children, as well as kill people with artillery and tanks, to maintain his power. More than 10,000 in a year.
In the United States it is reported that thousands of people die each year because they don't have access to affordable health care. Almost 50 million people are without health insurance, many of them poor or middle class. A 2009 report from Harvard (Wilper, 2009) suggested that almost 45,000 people die unnecessarily because they don't have access to health insurance. Testimony before Congress on health suggested:
Uninsured Americans frequently delay or forgo doctors’ visits, prescription medications, and other effective treatments, even when they have serious disease or life-threatening conditions. … Because uninsured adults seek health care less often than insured adults, they are often unaware of health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or early-stage cancer. Uninsured adults are also much less likely to receive vaccinations, cancer screening services such as mammography and colonoscopy, and other effective preventive services.
The latest report by Harvard researchers, using more recent data than previous studies, found that the uninsured are 40 percent more likely to die prematurely. And it expanded the age group a bit, estimating that among adults age 18 to 64, there were 35,327 deaths linked to a lack of insurance in 2005. Calculating the estimate without a breakdown by age group increased the figure to 44,789.
While there is some debate about the actual number who die, there is little question that thousands of Americans who don't have access to health care have a much higher percentage of risk of dying prematurely and unnecessarily.
If this is the case, then the debate about health care should be about helping people, mostly poor people, to have a fair chance of survival. Often those who want the Affordable Care Act repealed have a strong moral commitment to being prolife and against abortions. They suggest that life is precious, even the life of a fetus. If a fetus has a right to life, then certainly live, functioning adults in our society have that same right.
Thus, the debate about the Affordable Care Act should be refocused on the original purpose of the law, to provide access to health care for most Americans, no matter what their employment or personal wealth situation is all about.
All Americans have a right to life and denying individuals access to a health system to preserve that right is tantamount to killing them with policy. It may not be as heinous an act as shooting them dead in the street, but the end result is the same. They die. The inability of the Congress to enact reasonable legislation in the past 20 years has literally caused more than 500,000 people to die prematurely.....deaths that could have been prevented with affordable access by all Americans to health insurance.
Hopefully, the recent decision on the Affordable Care Act will reenergize our political system to stop delaying serious health care policies and end this needless loss of life. Politicians need to realize that they can't criticize a horrible tyrant from killing his people when they are doing the same thing with their inaction. Death by bullets and death by lack of access to health care have the same common feature...they end the lives of citizens, young and old. We are better than Bashar Al-Assad....let's show the world that we can work to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.