Health Care Reform Essay

Submitted By arendja
Words: 1602
Pages: 7

The debate over health care reform has raged in America ever since the days of the Progressive Era, when European countries during the same period were adopting some kind of health insurance as a way to gain political allegiance, while the US federal government let the states decide. Insurance was largely left to businesses under the influence of unions and attracting experience workers, along with Medicare and Medicaid . 46.3 million Americans were uninsured according to the 2008 Census Bureau . The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act is a landmark piece of legislation that was created in the spirit of health care as a right and will support a healthier American public and in the process reduce future health care costs.
In the history of health care reform, both proponents and opponents have cited important documents like the US Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution as reasoning for and against health care being a right for all Americans. Generally, left-wing pundits believe access to at least affordable health care is a human right, siting the Declaration of Independence’s right to “Life,” interpreting it as health care preserving Americans’ lives. In the Preamble to the Constitution, it states that it is the purpose of government to “…promote the general welfare” of the people, and just as education is filed under this, health care should be as well. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “…everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one's family, including... medical care.” All of these documents have been used as philosophical and moral backing in the health care debate .
Right-wing opponents hold a more strict interpretation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They will site the right to “pursue” happiness in the Declaration of Independence as not a right to happiness or free medical services. It is also just the government’s job to promote the general welfare of the American people, not provide it. In the 2012 Republican Party Platform, Republicans believe the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act is an “…attack on our Constitution…”, describing it as never really about healthcare, just another grab of power by the government for one sixth of the economy, and requiring Americans to buy insurance is an assault on individual freedom .
It is under the “threat” of socialism that the conservative half of the American political spectrum has largely stopped any reform of universal health care system in the United States for more than a century, and it is important to understand because this pressure largely shaped the way the Affordable Care Act was organized and implemented. Starting in the late 1800’s, many western European countries were developing some sort of “social insurance” that later evolved into more complex national insurance plans. Starting with Germany in 1883, countries like Britain developed their own plans by 1912. Ironically, the social insurance policies in Germany and Britain were developed by conservative governments as a political counter-action to take power away from socialist parties and labor unions. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the federal government left the social insurance choice to the states that in turn left it up to private industry, and with labor unions and socialist parties fragmented on the issue, the movement never really gained any momentum even under Theodore Roosevelt .
Following the First World War, the U.S. experienced anti-communism rhetoric that associated compulsory health care to the “…growing threat of communism” so the topic was largely dropped through the twenties and early thirties. The Great Depression made the American people hungry for social reform with millions thrown into poverty. One would think that the Great Depression would be the uniting force that would allow universal health care to be passed; however, it was pushed to the…