Health care is a right and thus a service that should be provided by a government
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I will be arguing against health care being a right. Thanks and good luck!
I will be on the Pro!
Enforcement of positive rights require that the initiation of force be applied. To enforce an right to health care it requires a state to use force(sometimes violent) to compel someone to provide the service. This initiation of force is in direct conflict to the principles of non aggression and the golden rule. l argue that health care is a negative right. That is that you have the right acquire health care services in a free and competitive marketplace without interference or force/coercion involved.
Government run health care systems work functionally in places where implemented. For example the with the National Health Service(NHS) a completely government run health care system in the United Kingdom there are not sick people dying in the streets. However, does that system provide outcomes better than those that could be provided for with a free market approach? With the NHS rated at "below average" compared to other nations for health care (2) and with a life expectancy of 75 years (3) versus 78 years in the United States (4) can we say health outcomes are better with state run health care?
Also, one need not look further than the United States' own Veterans Administration Health Care system to see the results of state run health care in the USA.
In the end however, the main arguments against health care as a right is a philosophical one rather than one based on outcomes as broad outcomes are comparable. So I ask pro, do humans have right to use violent force to compel other humans to provide a good or service or is that slavery?
Proponents of the right to health care say that no one in the richest nation on earth should go without health care. They argue that a right to health care would stop medical bankruptcies, improve public health, reduce overall health care spending, help small businesses, and that health care should be an essential government service.
Opponents argue that a right to health care amounts to socialism and that it should be an individual's responsibility, not the government's role, to secure health care. They say that government provision of health care would decrease the quality and availability of health care, and would lead to larger government debt and deficits.
Health Care Spending
In 2012 US health care spending totaled $2.8 trillion dollars and accounted for 17.2% of the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  The average annual cost of health care for the typical US family of four was over $20,000,  and health care costs that year rose at double the rate of inflation.  According to a 2012 study from Consumer Reports, paying for health care is the top financial problem for US households.  About 62% of all individual bankruptcies are related to medical expenses according to the most recent study available from 2009.  According to a 2011 report, of the 34 member states of the OECD, the United States ranks #1 in per capita health care expenditures at $8,508 per person, which is 2.5 times more than the OECD average of $3,339 per person. 
US health care spending is financed by a mixture of households (28%), the federal government (26%), businesses (21%), state and local governments (18%), and other private sources (7%).  Health care is the largest private-sector industry in the United States accounting for about 13% of the total US workforce
he United States is one of the world's only developed nations that does not guarantee universal health coverage for its citizens.  In 2005 the United States and the other member states of the World Health Organization signed the World Health Assembly resolution 58.33,  which stated that nations should "transition to universal coverage of their citizens... with a view to sharing risk among the population and avoiding catastrophic health-care expenditure and impoverishment of individuals as a result of seeking care." 
Compared to the 34 nations of the OECD, the United States had the third highest rate of infant mortality (behind Turkey and Mexico), 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000 people (lower than the OECD average of 3.1), and an average life expectancy of 78.7 (lower than the OECD average of 80.1 years). 
In the United States, fewer than 10% of patients wait more than two months to see a specialist versus 41% in Canada, 34% in Norway, and 28% in France.  The US 5-year survival rate for all cancers is 64.6%, over 10% higher than the 5-year cancer survival rate in Europe (51.6%).  A 2009 study found that the United States had better cancer screening rates than 10 European countries including France, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland.  The United States is estimated to have the highest prostate and breast cancer survival rates in the world. 
The World Health Organization ranked the US health care system at #37 out of 191 countries in its 2000 report, between Costa Rica and Slovenia.  In 2014, the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in overall health care behind (in order) United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, France, and Canada.Throughout the 18th and 19th century the US federal government did not finance or otherwise provide health care to the public.  However, in the early 20th century, a debate over the right to health care began to emerge. In 1915 the American Association for Labor Legislation drafted a series of bills to provide state medical benefits to low income workers. In 1920 the New York State Commissioner of Health, Hermann Biggs, began promoting public health services at the county level, and Charles-Edward Amory Winslow, the Chair of the Department of Public Health at Yale University, wrote: "I look to see our health departments in the coming years" enable every citizen to realize his birthright of health and longevity."  That same year the American Medical Association's House of Delegates passed a resolution officially opposing compulsory health insurance in the United States,  with one group of delegates from Illinois calling it a "dangerous bolshevik" schemeGovernment-funded health insurance was considered by President Roosevelt's Committee on Economic Security, but it was never included as part of the 1935 Social Security Act,  in part due to opposition from the American Medical Association.  In 1938, health care reform to provide universal coverage was proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as an extension of social security, and  US Surgeon General Thomas Parran argued that "equal opportunity for health is a basic American right."  In Feb. 1939, Senator Robert Wagner (D-NY) introduced the National Health Care Act of 1939 which would have implemented a national health care system,  however, the bill did not gain the necessary support in Congress and died in committeeIn 1945, in another attempt at universal healthcare, Harry S. Truman sent a message to the United States Congress asking for a new national health insurance program to be run by the federal government. The voluntary program would have allowed individuals to pay monthly fees in return for coverage of all medical expenses. The program was introduced in Congress as the Social Security Expansion Bill. The bill never passed, in part, due the American Medical Association characterizing it at "socialized medicine."  Although a national health program for all US citizens was not achieved, proponents of the plan continued to advocate for government-funded health insurance by shifting focus to providing coverage to Americans over the age of 65 and the economically disadvantaged. By the early 1960s, debate grew over the King-Anderson bill, a precursor to Medicare, that would have extend Social Security to cover the medical bills of Americans over the age of 65. Ronald Reagan, who opposed the bill, warned in a 1961 spoken word record that "one of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine."  Despite some public opposition, Medicare (the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965) was eventually passed by the House (307-116) and the Senate (77-6), and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 30, 1965In 1971, President Richard Nixon laid out a National Health Strategy to reform the health insurance system and move towards universal healthcare.  In a 1972 message to Congress, President Nixon continued to advocate for universal healthcare, arguing that "reform of our health care system - so that every citizen will be able to get quality health care at reasonable cost regardless of income and regardless of area of residence - remains an item of highest priority on my unfinished agenda for America in the 1970s."  A competing plan by Senator Ted Kennedy, the Health Security Act, sought to implement a universal single-payer federal health insurance plan to be financed through taxes.  Despite their efforts, by the end of the Nixon presidency, no health care legislation had reached the President's desk. President Clinton brought the issue of national health care back to the forefront in 1993. On Sep. 22, 1993, he delivered a speech to Congress stating that the "most urgent priority" of the nation was to provide "every American health security, health care that can never be taken away, health care that is always there."  Three months later the Health Security Act was introduced to move the United States towards the goal of universal coverage by requiring all individuals to obtain health insurance and instituting an employer mandate to provide insurance.  The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) called the act "socialist," and a "forfeiture of our freedom" that would "destroy private insurance."  During this same time period other legislators introduced a competing act to create a federally run "single-payer" national health insurance plan.  As in the 1970s, none of the plans gained enough support to pass Congress, much less make it to the President's desk.
I had already previously conceded in most modern states universal health care provided by the state works from a practical and functional standpoint. Pro in fact conceded that in some areas the hybrid approach of the United States with a mostly market but some state intervention is better than states with universal state ran systems. Especially when it comes to wait times.
Pro says "In the United States, fewer than 10% of patients wait more than two months to see a specialist versus 41% in Canada, 34% in Norway, and 28% in France. The US 5-year survival rate for all cancers is 64.6%, over 10% higher than the 5-year cancer survival rate in Europe (51.6%). A 2009 study found that the United States had better cancer screening rates than 10 European countries including France, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland. The United States is estimated to have the highest prostate and breast cancer survival rates in the world."
Statements like this would lead one to believe that less state intervention is better in many if not most cases than more state intervention. Still this is not addressing the question of this debate.
The question is what constituents a right? Are positive right really valid rights? It is moral to use force to provide a good or service?
If a right to health care exists as a positive right then where does it end? Is there a right to clothing, shelter, food, or a certain income?
I argue you have no right to use force to accomplish such things. Government is force, your relationship with government is not voluntary and I refuse to accept the notion that we need violence accomplish civil society. The fact of the matter is to provide health care or anything else though the state it requires resources are forcefully taken from the population and redistributed. This flies directly in the face of everything we learned in Kindergarten, don't hit people and don't take their stuff. Voting to take stuff from people though a state is no different.
"I think it [health care] should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills -- for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that.""The hour has arrived to begin anew the Civil Rights Movement, this time for Health Care for All...
The Preamble to the United States Constitution and Article One, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution both describe an originating purpose of our United States: to promote the general welfare. Health care is a legitimate function of our government. Health care is a basic right in a Democratic society. It is no more a privilege based on ability to pay than is the right to vote, which was once accorded only to property owners."
Edward M. Kennedy, LLB, late US Senator (D-MA), stated in his July 18, 2009 article "'The Cause of My Life'" published in Newsweek magazine:
"[Q]uality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face...
This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver... to make sure, as I said, 'that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American"will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege'... [I]t goes to the heart of my belief in a just society..."
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the official organization of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States, wrote in its June 18, 1993 resolution titled "A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform":
"Our approach to health care is shaped by a simple but fundamental principle: 'Every person has a right to adequate health care. This right flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons, who are made in the image of God.' Health care is more than a commodity; it is a basic human right, an essential safeguard of human life and dignity. We believe our people's health care should not depend on where they work, how much their parents earn, or where they live. Our constant teaching that each human life must be protected and human dignity promoted leads us to insist that all people have a right to health care." Let me start by telling the story of Deamonte Driver.
Deamonte lived on the wrong side of the tracks, in Prince George"s County, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. He was raised by a single mother. He spent his childhood in and out of homeless shelters. He was a black kid on welfare.
Insights into health care and entitlement reform.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Avik RoyAvik Roy, Forbes Staff
Yale University - Davenport College Facade - N...
Facade of Davenport College, Yale University. (Photo credit: Adam Jones, Ph.D. - Global Photo Archive)
Many moons ago, I served a term as chairman of the Conservative Party of the Yale Political Union, a parliamentary debating society
The reason I"m here is to explain to the members of this website why health care is, indeed, a right. Let me start by telling the story of Deamonte Driver.
Deamonte lived on the wrong side of the tracks, in Prince George"s County, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. He was raised by a single mother. He spent his childhood in and out of homeless shelters. He was a black kid on welfare.
Deamonte died at age twelve. But Deamonte died, not in a drive-by shooting, or in a drug deal gone bad. Deamonte died of a toothache.
In January 2007, Deamonte told his mother, Alyce, that he had a headache. She took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a severe dental abscess and given some medication. But the next day, his condition worsened. It turned out that the infection from his tooth had spread to his brain. He was taken to the hospital again and underwent emergency surgery. After a second surgery, he got better for a while, but then began to have seizures. Several weeks later, Deamonte was dead.
Of course, that was in the old, barbaric America, the one before the enactment of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. After that law is fully implemented, nearly every American will have health insurance, and stories like Deamonte"s will be a thing of the past.
Except that Deamonte Driver died not because he was uninsured. Indeed, Deamonte Driver died because he was insured"by the government. Deamonte, it turns out, was on Medicaid, America"s government-run health care program for the poor.
Although Deamonte was insured, he never received routine dental care. It turns out that only 16 percent of Maryland dentists accept Medicaid patients. Fewer than one-sixth of Maryland kids on Medicaid have ever had a cavity filled. Deamonte"s younger brother, DaShawn, had six rotted teeth, but it took dozens of calls before DaShawn could find one dentist who would see him. When the dentist concluded that DaShawn"s teeth were beyond repair, and required extraction, it took another several months to find an oral surgeon who would see him.The reason why so few doctors accept Medicaid insurance is that Medicaid, in many states, pays doctors far less than it costs those doctors to care for Medicaid patients. Here in Connecticut, Medicaid pays 63 cents for every dollar that a private insurer pays a doctor to treat someone. In New Jersey, Medicaid pays only 33 cents. In New York and Rhode Island, it"s 29 cents. Doctors here face the impossible choice of treating these indigent patients, and bankrupting their practices, or not treating them at all.
You"d think that many mothers in Alyce"s position would find a way around this problem, that she could offer to supplement Medicaid"s penurious fees in order to gain access to a better dentist for her two sons. But that would be illegal. For those enrolled in government-run health insurance, it is illegal to try to gain better access to doctors and dentists by offering to make up the difference between what health care costs, and what the government pays.
That basic right"the right of a woman and her doctor to freely exchange money for a needed medical service"is one that 90 million Americans have been denied by their government.
Forcible enrollment in government health care
Let me tell another story, the story of Brian Hall, of Catlett, Virginia. Brian is a 69-year-old retiree. Brian did what we"d want all retirees to do: he saved for his own health care.
Brian"s office job allowed him to stay on private insurance after he retired. Brian"s health coverage included a high-deductible insurance plan that would take care of him if he got hit by a bus, or fell down the stairs, or suffered from a stroke. It also included a health savings account, to which Brian made annual deposits of about $4,000 a year.
Brian collected interest on that savings account, and could use those savings to pay for routine health expenses. Unlike Deamonte Driver, Brian could use his health savings account to gain access to just about any doctor he wanted, because he was paying cash. There was only one condition: Brian could only continue to use his health savings account, and his high-deductible insurance coverage, if he did not enroll in Medicare.
Brian was okay with that. He had saved enough over the course of his life that he preferred the plan he was on, rather than a Medicare program that was increasingly facing the same problems as Medicaid. But on January 3, 2009, when Brian turned 65, he received a phone call from the Social Security Administration, informing him that he had no choice but to enroll in Medicare, and that he could not withdraw from the program. If Brian insisted on withdrawing from Medicare, the agent told him, he would forfeit his right to his monthly Social Security benefit, a benefit that he had paid for with every paycheck he"d ever received.
Now, think about that for a moment.
Brian Hall is telling the government that he doesn"t want to take advantage of a government program. He"s saying, "take this taxpayer money and spend it on someone else. I"m happy to continue to pay into my private insurance plan and my private health savings account instead." And the government responds by telling him that he has no choice but to enroll in Medicare and shut down his health savings account. If he doesn"t do what the government has told him to do, the Social Security Administration will confiscate his pension, even though his pension has no financial connection to the Medicare program.
Brian did something that Alyce Driver couldn"t afford to do. He sued. In court, Brian argued that forced participation in Medicare violated his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
But Hall lost the case, in district court. He appealed his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where he lost again, in a 2 to 1 decision. He then appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. But the Supremes, in their infinite wisdom, refused to hear the case. "We understand plantiffs" frustration," wrote the majority in the Court of Appeals opinion. But "plaintiffs" position is inconsistent with the statutory text."
In other words, that basic right"the right of a retiree to turn down a federal program, and pay for the health insurance plan of his choice, is one that every retired American has been denied by his government.
Infringing the rights of young people
It"s not just the poor and the elderly whose rights to health care have been infringed by the government. It"s also the young.
The Affordable Care Act contains a provision called "community rating." It requires that insurers charge their costliest customers a maximum of three times what they charge their least-costly customers.
The problem is this: the average 64-year-old consumes about six times as much health care as the average 18-year-old. So the economic consequence of community rating, in the vast majority of U.S. states, is that many young people will see their premiums rise by more than 100 percent, so that some older individuals will enjoy modest discounts of 10 percent on their premiums.
This provision was added to Obamacare at the behest of the AARP, the famous seniors" lobby. Our new health law cuts Medicare by $716 billion over the next ten years, and Democrats needed AARP"s support in order to pass the bill. So they added community rating: in effect, a massive transfer of wealth from the young to the old.
And here"s the kicker: thanks to Obamacare"s individual mandate, young people are no longer allowed to opt out of the system. They must pay these drastically inflated rates for health insurance, even if they never go to the doctor. The average 20-year-old consumes about $700 a year in health care, but will be forced to pay $4,000 a year, or more, for health insurance.
You see, health care is a right, in the same way that liberty is a right. And that liberty"to freely seek the care we need, to pay for it in a way that is mutually convenient for us and our doctors, is one that our government is gradually taking out of our hands.
Positive rights vs. negative rights
Now, I"m not going to drone on tonight about Locke and Bastiat and Nozick and Rawls, but I do want to address the difference between negative rights and positive rights. I know that those on the left side of this House do not necessarily accept that there is a meaningful difference between negative and positive rights. So let"s talk about the progressive conception that we all have a positive right to health care, care largely paid for by other people.
It"s a great applause line, isn"t it, to say that "health care is a universal human right."
But after the applause has died down, we"re left with the question that the left rarely takes time to answer: what is health care?
Let"s say there"s a new treatment for terminal prostate cancer, one that extends your life, on average, by two months. The treatment costs one million dollars per patient. Does every American have a right to that treatment? Is two months of life worth a million dollars?
What if I smoke two packs a day, and I come down with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a costly chronic condition. Do I have a right to the money of other people, in order to care for a disease that I, in all likelihood, brought upon myself?
A progressive might respond that we need to provide basic health care to everyone, so that no one is left dying on the street after getting hit by a bus. But we already provide "free" emergency care to every American. So what else counts as basic health care? Is Viagra health care? Is all health care a right, or just some? And who decides? These are the questions that no applause line can adequately answer.
In Great Britain, the moral logic of the progressive right to health care is carried to its conclusion. In Britain, a bureaucracy called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, has determined that a new treatment that extends life by something called a "quality-adjusted life year" is only worth paying for if it costs less than "20-30,000, or about $30-$45,000. This formula leads NICE to make, from time to time, some interesting decisions.
In 2005, Genentech, the pioneering biotechnology company, announced impressive clinical trial results for a new drug called Lucentis, that treated the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, a disease called age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. Genentech sought to charge "2,000 a month for Lucentis, amounting to "28,000 for a 14-month course of treatment. NICE, however, thought this too expensive, and decided to only recommend payment for Lucentis if a patient was already blind in one eye. NICE"s logic being that a person who has two eyes, and loses one, is not that badly off; whereas a person who has one eye, and loses that one, is completely blind, and that"s no good.
Literally, England has become the land of the blind, in which the one-eyed man is king.
The strongest progressive argument
But the progressive side has better, stronger arguments that I will make on its behalf.
Let"s take the example of a young, pregnant mother, who has just learned that the baby in her womb has Down Syndrome. She is faced with the terrible choice of knowing that if she carries her pregnancy to term, it will cost her a fortune in money, time, and effort to care for her new child. She has every economic incentive to undergo an abortion, even if she doesn"t want one, even if she is pro-life.
There are other children born with disease and disability, like cystic fibrosis or juvenile diabetes. Unlike our chronic smoker, who has brought about his own health problems, these children face severe disadvantages in life, through no fault of their own. These children"and the many adults who endure similar misfortune"are worthy of our attention, and our charity.
By the classical liberal understanding of negative rights, that mother who bears a child with Down Syndrome has no right to my financial support. But surely, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we can afford to pool our resources to care for those who truly need our help. I, for one, would be glad to pay a portion of my earnings to fund high-quality health care for the truly needy.
But that is not what we do in America. We massively subsidize health care for wealthy seniors, through Medicare, and for wealthy workers, through a provision of the tax code called the employer tax exclusion. Those two programs alone cost us over $1 trillion a year, and do much to make American health care absurdly expensive. They also make it much harder to fund health care for the poor and the uninsured, by starving the government of resources it could direct to that purpose.
Did you know that in America"this alleged bastion of the free-market"the government spends more per capita on health care than all but three countries in the world? In 2010, U.S. public entities spent $3,967 per person on health care. That"s far more than Germany, Canada, France, Britain, and all of the other countries we conservatives normally think of as socialist dystopias.
This point is so compelling that it has become a standard talking point on the left. "Not only would a single-payer system provide health care to everyone," they say, "but it would also reduce the deficit." And they"re right.
But what progressives neglect to point out is that, while every developed country in the world other than ours has universal health care, some of those countries achieve universal coverage using market-oriented methods that emphasize personal choice and responsibility.
Singapore spends one-seventh of what we spend on health care, and one-quarter of what Europeans do. And yet Singapore has managed to cover everyone, with health outcomes that are as good or better than the rest of the world. They"ve done it through a system of universal health savings accounts, in which every Singaporean saves for his own routine health expenses, while gaining insurance coverage for catastrophic events.
Now, Singapore"s political system is hardly the model of freedom. But its health care system teaches us much about how affordable it can be to provide health care to everyone, if we do it the right way. We would be running massive surpluses, instead of deficits, if we had a health-care system like Singapore"s.
So, let me leave the House with this thought. Some of us believe that health care is a negative right: that it"s the government"s obligation to maximize the degree to which we have freedom to seek the health care of our choosing. On the other hand, some of us believe that health care is a positive right: that the government has every prerogative to appropriate our income, for the purpose of providing some sort of health care to everyone.
The progressive conception of health care as a positive right misses something important: that we could provide better, and more affordable, coverage for everyone if we understood the degree to which classical liberal principles, like choice and competition and voluntarism, can achieve a superior form of universal health care.
The libertarian conception of health care as a negative right, however, also misses something important: the degree to which it is a worthy thing for us to pool our resources in order to support those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves with disability or disease.
As two commentators recently put it, "equality of opportunity is not a natural state; it is a social achievement, for which government shares some responsibility. The proper reaction to egalitarianism is not indifference. It is the promotion of a fluid society in which aspiration is honored and rewarded."
A child with Down Syndrome may not have the right to my money. But we are a better community, and a better country, if we give it to him anyway.
Pro asks questions such as, how do we define healthcare? This is why the marketplace should be left to it. Individuals should have ownership over their own care and people should come together voluntarily to help those in need not by force or compulsion.
We either respect individual liberty or we don't. We say that free choice exists or it doesn't. With respect for free markets and individual liberty we can have great choice and innovation as I have demonstrated above. We can have government run systems and they can work, but they inherently violate basic human freedoms.
In the end like I said it comes down to if we respect liberty or if we want blanket one size fits all solutions. The choice is ours to make.
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