Is Health Care a Right?
As Congress drags its feet on repealing Obamacare, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took a primetime slot on CNN to debate the healthcare law’s future. The debate focused largely around the fallout of Obamacare and possible replacement reforms moving forward, but also brought to light a fundamental question often lost in the largely healthcare debate–is health care a right?
Liberal activists, nowadays clothed in pink hats, have taken to the streets with their poster board signs to declare their rights–birth control, abortion, college, and health care. Bernie Sanders championed this approach during the debate “If you are an American, you are guaranteed health care as a right.”
Unfortunately, a lot of the confusion surrounding the question at hand stems from incorrect definitions. Health care is, in fact, not a human right, but all humans have the right to access health care – a point Sen. Cruz elegantly made during the debate. Our inalienable rights exist wholly apart from government, and no government can take them away. The Declaration of Independence expresses those rights as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Bill of Rights then specifies ways in which the government must protect those rights, leaving us free from government coercion.
Through this proper understanding, government exists not as the source of rights, but to secure them. Liberals justify the right to universal health care by arguing it is a necessary condition to life, liberty, and happiness. But then why stop at health care? Extending this logic mandates the government provide food to sustain life or guns for self-defense.
In order to provide universal health care, the government must violate the actual rights of others by determining what doctors perform which services at what cost. In essence, this is what Obamacare has done. It has redistributed individual wealth, mandated insurance companies, businesses, and individuals buy a specific product, and regulated the costs of those products.
The distinction between the right to access health care free from government coercion and the right to health care must be understood. The former continues in the tradition of rights as understood at the founding of America. The logic of the latter devolves quickly to a government powerful enough to grant unlimited rights under the guise of compassion while legitimately violating the liberty secured by our Constitution.