human behavior

Enemies of health care reform

Republican Senator Orrin G. Hatch (Utah)

“It’s going to be a holy war.” – Senator Orrin Hatch on the Republican fight against healthcare reform

Nicholas Kristof takes a short trip through the history of Republican opposition to social welfare programs. In The Wrong Side of History, he reminds us of the identical Republican arguments against Social Security and Medicare.

Understanding past Republican opposition to these indispensable programs is critical to understanding their present fight against insuring 30-odd million people, including 8 million children.

And critical to understanding the feasibility of reform is an appreciation of universal health care’s success stories worldwide. Contrary to Republican claims, the British National Health Service (NHS) is a success. The Brits will whinge about it, sure, but universal health care in Britain works and works well. The British have a longer life expectancy than we do, and a lower infant mortality rate. And those are but two measures of success of their superior approach to public health.

And then there’s Australia, which you never hear about in the healthcare debate. While my relatives in America are terrified of losing their jobs because they’ll lose their health insurance, I reap the benefits from Australia’s universal healthcare system, Medicare. I see a family doctor on average four times a year, and he’s referred me to various specialists in the past 12 months alone. I had a minor surgical procedure earlier this year and will have another next month. The cost?  A pittance. Or free. The most important thing I need in my wallet when I visit the doctor is my Medicare card.

No one has to worry about losing their health insurance in Australia. Provided by the government, it’s the privilege of residency or citizenship. It’s also a reflection of a civilized and compassionate society, and one with the intelligence and foresight to recognize that a healthy citizenry cures economic and social ills.

No – more than that. Universal healthcare is also the height of patriotism; for how can one claim to love America, if one cares so little for the people who inhabit it? What is a nation but a community of souls with a vested interest in the productivity of each for the benefit of all? No community can thrive where its people are left to die by the roadside – at least not without losing its soul.

“It’s going to be a holy war” says Orrin Hatch, a fierce opponent to government-funded universal healthcare. As a senator, Hatch enjoys government-provided health insurance, and as a senior citizen, is eligible for government-funded Medicare. Well, let him fight for his god.

I’ll fight for Americans.

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