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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/9/17

Healthcare is a Human Right

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Message Harold Novikoff
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What are the reasons why the USA, supposedly the wealthiest country in the world, can't have a decent form of universal health coverage? Of the 34 member countries in the Organization of Economic Development, we are Number 33, just behind Mexico, in the percentage of people covered and cost participation of the government in national health programs. Our government pays about 32% of the cost and private insurance covers 53%. Twenty countries are 100% and 0%, respectively. Coverage is mandatory and taxes cover the costs in those countries*.

The reasons are obvious. In those other countries, social consciousness in government policy has evolved commensurate with progress in civilization to realize that health care coverage is a human right and necessity. In this respect (and others), we are a backward country. Why? Because our government has capitulated completely by giving priority in all matters to big business motivated solely and amorally by profits for the wealthy class.

Health care is a vital function of modern society. It is an essential attribute of democratic society in its mandate to promote the general welfare and secure the inalienable rights of life and the pursuit of happiness. According to our founding principles and our wealth, we should be leading the entire world in universal health care - not rated near the bottom.

Health care is not by nature a business. It is the availability of doctors, nurses, medicines and hospitals. It is the science which assures the quality and benefit of treatments and drugs. It is the education needed to promote good diets and healthy living regimens. It is the ethical policies that should assure unpolluted air and water, and uncontaminated foods for everyone.

Traditionally, medicine, as a profession, is a noble pursuit.Those who enter this profession as a business opportunity for exceptional income thwart the feasibility of universal health care. Faithful practitioners are devoted to healing the sick as their primary motivation. There is an implicit obligation in this profession to serve the needs of the general population.

A universal health care system may require all doctors to devote some of their practice to a universal health plan at affordable rates. Otherwise, the government could educate and employ a core of doctors committed to lifelong service in universal health care. There is no role for profit-seeking insurance companies in a well-functioning universal health care system. Administrative functions can be performed entirely by civil service. Similarly, the pharmaceutical industry must be open to intensive scrutiny and competition to minimize prices and overuse.

Government subsidies for research and development related to the plan should be repaid from any ensuing profits or returned as a partnership . Costs for the health plan should be covered fully or supplementally by dedicated taxes, not as part of a general tax relief scam that disguises tax benefits for the wealthy, since many of the poor pay little or no taxes.

When will our government start functioning again as a friend of the common people, as it did during the Great Depression under the New Deal? (Perhaps that is the "Great America" Trump refers to?) When will the government place a (much) higher priority on life-oriented health and well-being of all the people than on the profits of our gigantic death-dealing war machine?

*[Wikipedia - estimate per 2011]

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Veteran, retired from several occupations (school teacher, technical writer, energy conservation business, etc.) long-time Sierra Club member

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