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Posted Jul 9, 2012, 9:39 am
In all the rhetoric about health care, we lose sight of the most fundamental social decision– one we made long ago: Every American is entitled to extensive health care regardless of whether he can pay for it.
The reason this gets lost is that there is no one bill or act or piece of legislation that says this. There is case law in many states that requires hospital ER's to treat anyone who shows up regardless of ability to pay; there are malpractice concerns that mean you don't turn someone away; there are federal and state mandates that if you accept certain types of aid you must treat people who have no insurance and can't pay; there is a general acceptance of the notion that we won't withhold seriously needed medical service.
As soon as a society decides everyone is entitled to get care – decided, therefore, that health care is a right – the only real question left is how do you pay for it.
Do you make those who can pay (the insured) absorb the cost of everyone else?
Do you make hospitals and doctors absorb the cost and work for free?
Do you spread the costs as broadly as possible by using tax?
Health care isn't like broccoli. If it were, our current system would be: Everyone can have as much free broccoli as he wants. Hopefully some of you who really like broccoli will pay so much for it that it will cover the cost for everyone else.
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Morrison Institute for Public Policy is a leader in examining critical Arizona and regional issues, and is a catalyst for public dialogue. An Arizona State University resource, Morrison Institute uses nonpartisan research and communication outreach to help improve the state's quality of life.
Local attorney, land-use expert and educator Grady Gammage Jr. is a senior research fellow at Morrison Institute for Public Policy.