Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Health Care Reform: A Moral Question?

Via Huffington Post. William A. Smith, the VP for Public Policy at SIECUS states:

Here is where I return to the lament about the lack of consistent and
penetrating moral framework to our domestic discussion about healthcare. Moral language is the bridge back to securing rights and reviving the special sense in the American consciousness that the term ought to inspire. They are not mutually exchangeable terms or frames of reference. Further, morals lead to rights, not the reverse. Positing rights language without first successfully providing the moral argument perhaps serves short term advocacy goals, but in the end, creates a hollow shell that is ultimately difficult to defend. And here is where we find ourselves.

Smith's argument is that health care reform in the US is deteriorating because health reform advocates have failed to frame the issue as a moral one. The debate has been framed in terms of money and rights without a moral component. With this in mind, is true health care reform in the US even possible?

The Feminist Majority Foundation has framed the issue as an implicitly moral one:
  • "Women spend higher percentage of income on healthcare because they earn less than men on average and often reproductive health costs are not covered. Women are more likely than male counterparts to be underinsured." (link)

  • "Reproductive health services are costly and too often not covered. Birth control for women of reproductive age is the highest out-of-pocket expense." (link)

  • "Women are the principal health care deciders for families and make 80% of all family health care decisions." (link)

  • "The public option is essential for keeping affordable the premiums of private insurance companies by providing competition and an alternative. It ensures there is an affordable option for individuals or families who do not have health insurance access and for small businesses currently without health insurance coverage for their employees. " (link)

The need for reform due to the inequities and deep impacts facing women under the current health system is clearly stated. The moral tie to this claim is that health care reform must be passed because it would be more just and equitable to do so.

Is Smith right? Is true health care reform impossible today? Or, do we still have a chance to win true health care reform? Do we have the necessary moral ground to do so?

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