Letter for Sunday, July 16, 2017

• Health-care bill needs goal

Health-care bill needs goal

Congress begins another round in D.C. of trying to cobble together a health-care bill which doesn’t disgust more senators than can stomach it. The only purpose seems to be to pass some health-care bill.

What is lacking is a goal. A defined goal that any health-care proposal must serve would both sharpen the discussion, and help frame the elements. Instead, we have a succession of proposals each resembling something Sid from “Toy Story” might have created.

Almost 75 years ago, America’s president, months from being re-elected for an unprecedented fourth term, in his State of the Union message, noted: “We cannot be content, no matter how high (our) general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people — whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth — is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and insecure.”

Our president continued, “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” Certain “economic truths,” he said “have become self-evident.” The United States has recognized certain economic needs which are as important as the political rights in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Among those he listed are:

w “The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health,” and

w “The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.”

Whether we label it a “right” or simply pursue it as good policy, or to avoid tariffs imposed on our goods and services by nations whose products include the cost of universal health care, the United States should adopt the goal that all Americans have “adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health,” with “adequate protection” that the cost of health care does not constitute an “economic fear” to them.

When we define that as the goal for our health care policy, whether achieved by single payer, state-based systems, insurance based systems, or some new innovation, the path and components will become clearer.

Jed Somit, Kapaa


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