How Should Governments Approach Healthcare? (New Debate Format)


Question: Is Healthcare a right that should be mandated and provided by the state?

Healthcare on the State Level: Written by Elaine Li, Texas

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to healthcare, as a public good, not a commodity. Therefore, healthcare is undeniably a right to all human beings regardless of race, status, or class. However, healthcare is not omnipresent in the United States.The majority of American citizens under age 65 are currently insured, however, there are 28.4 million people that are uninsured. The United States government has taken steps to try and alleviate the situation. For example, the Obama administration released the Affordable Care Act to help provide incentive and a way for the uninsured American citizen to receive health benefits. While the ACA has reaped in benefits, the act is still lacking.

The ACA is restricting every single state and citizen to comply to same healthcare situation as everyone else. A similar analogy to the Affordable Care Act is Common Core because rather than the state setting their own standards; the federal government dictates everything. The demographics and structure of California is quite different from that of Wisconsin, yet both states are subjected to the same healthcare standards. Based on each states demographic, they should be allowed to set rates, subsidies, etc. The states representative should be able to evaluate the best way to provide healthcare to their state and its constituents.

Furthermore, those who favor the state approach say it would be better for the citizens to call their state regulators than trying to navigate a new federal structure. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners wrote, “State insurance regulators have a proven track record of swift and appropriate action to protect insurance consumers, whole there is no evidence that a federal regulator could or would perform comparably.” Some critics may say that the state will not be able to fully regulate the healthcare and process due to lack of employees and funds. Indeed, if healthcare was to be regulated by the state this would be an issue. However, these issues can be solved. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated by March 2012, Obama Care cost $1.76 trillion, With the current budget that’s given to ACA, if the government was to use state regulated healthcare, then the federal government could link the respected amount money to the states based on their needs that is projected by the state. In addition, this could possibly provide new governmental jobs to people living in the states.

Healthcare is undeniably a right to everyone. There should be no discrimination in how and to who healthcare is distributed. However, health coverage should be dictated by the state rather than the federal government. Although it is not feasible to set health coverage conditions for every single person living in the US, allowing states to take most of the control in providing and regulating healthcare is the next best option.

Single Payer is Not the Answer: Written by John Kingler, Washington DC

It’s true: I’m against a single-payer healthcare system. The idea certainly isn’t new, versions were proposed during both the New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program. However, in recent political history, single-payer has been largely considered a fantasy of the American far-left; that is, until today. Most recently, the idea of a single-payer health insurance system has made a surprising return to national prominence: Bernie Sanders supported it in the 2016 Democratic Primary and 28% of Americans say they support a “single, nationalized government healthcare program.” I think this would be a bad idea for two primary reasons; the first is abstract: I don’t think that healthcare is a so-called 'positive right'; the second is practical: I think that a single-payer system would decrease quality and increase wait-times, thereby making American healthcare worse in the long run.

My first objection to single-payer healthcare rests in my definition of a right. Many proponents of the idea argue that “healthcare is a fundamental human right”, and that the only way for everyone to enjoy their “right” would be a government-sponsored, single-payer system. My qualms with this argument rest in the interpretation of the word ‘right’. I believe that ‘rights’ should generally mean “negative rights”, which enshrine a fundamental principles upon which nobody (particularly the government) can infringe. On the other hand, a “positive-right” requires others to provide you with a given service. In America, our Constitution enshrines negative, not positive rights. For example, the First Amendment protects speech from government interference, but does not mandate that everybody be given a computer and a personalized blog-page to voice their opinions. Similarly, the Second Amendment protects the right to “bear arms”, but does not supply everybody in America with a free firearm of their choice. I believe the same is true for healthcare. Everybody has a right to secure healthcare, but not necessarily to be given care free-of-charge. Healthcare, after all, is the labor of a doctor or a nurse, offered voluntarily in exchange for currency. If someone truly had the “right to healthcare”, it would deprive doctors of their freedom to choose when to work, who to work for, and what work to perform, even if the government was paying the bills. As Michael Tanner notes at National Review, “Healthcare is neither a right nor a privilege; it’s a commodity. Worse, it’s a finite commodity. There are only so many doctors, so many hospitals, and so much money, and there are limits to how much these things can be expanded.” Harsh words, but true on a fundamental level.

My second objection to single-payer healthcare lies in its practicality. The engine behind any single-payer plan is government control over the healthcare industry; this would mean centralized allocation of resources, leading to increased wait times and poor quality as federal authorities provide too much money to one area, and not enough to another. Under a single-payer healthcare system, wait-times would be greatly increased. In Canada, often cited as an example for any US single-payer system, the average wait time to receive treatment from a specialist is 18.2 weeks, significantly longer than the United States according to The Fraser Institute. Only 8% of surveyed patients in the United States reported a wait time of four months or more for elective surgery, compared to 33% in Canada. Additionally, a single-payer system would decrease quality of care. Currently, the US health industry is a beacon of innovation; cutting edge treatments are developed here because of our emphasis on consumer choice. However, single-payer’s bureaucratic requirements would stifle any existing innovation by decreasing incentives and thwarting individual choice. Just look at the VA, the only American, government funded healthcare system, for our veterans; wait times are long, care is poor, veterans have little choice and are often hurt by sub-par care. Truly, a single-payer healthcare system would be impractical.

All that being said, I’m certainly not unfeeling on this issue. The cost of healthcare in The United States is far too high; I just do not believe that a single-payer healthcare system would create a better outcome, as alluring as it might seem.

Now It's Time for Your Input:

There's plenty to talk about on this issue, especially in light of the newest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Remember that the arguments above are only a jumping off point. Feel free to discuss their arguments or bring up some of your own. Are you for private insurance? Single payer? Universal healthcare? Something else? Let us know. International readers don't feel left out! This is not limited to the US. Add your input on the US's situation or talk about how your thoughts on your country's own system. This is all about talking constructively and learning about as many different sides as possible. Only then can we begin to Bridge the Divide.

#ElaineLi #JohnKingler #Debate #healthcare #singlepayer

The opinions expressed above are solely those of the author, and in no way reflect the opinions of Bridge the Divide or its affiliates.

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