Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Healthcare as a right...

I've talked about this issue before - access to adequate health care as a basic human right. As my son scanned the news last night, for his journalism class, he paused on a story about this very issue. The commentator opened by making the statement that prisoners are the only Americans who have a right to health care granted by the Constitution. "Really?", he said. Yeah, really...

The eighth amendment guarantees the right of prisoners to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. And, the Supreme Court has affirmed that lack of timely access to medical care would be cruel and unusual punishment.
This comes to light as we are all reeling from the Great Recession. And, because the State of California has so many more prisoners than space to keep them, we are reminded of this right to health care. You see, a recent decision by a panel of federal judges tells California that they will need to release 55,000 prisoners, since the overcrowding conditions impedes this access to health care.
So, to extend this analogy, if the US Supreme Court were to affirm that access to health care is a fundamental human right, as does the World Health Organization and the United Nations, would that mean we would then have a responsibility to send 46 million of our citizens to another country, one with universal healthcare access? (46 million is the often-quoted number for the number of uninsured Americans; with the Great Recession, we have certainly seen the number of newly-uninsured patients in our Centers increasing.)

No comments: