Friday, March 06, 2009

Is Health Care a Right?

Back in one of my earliest political science classes, the instructor (the inesimable Diane Harvey now at George Mason) asked what is the difference between a civil right and a civil liberty?

The answer is the role of the government in the freedom in question. A civil right is something that the govnerment guarantees--like the right to vote for those who are eligible. A civil liberty is the ability to do something free of governmental inference, like traveling.

Mike Rappaport as the question of whether Health Care is a right.

If you listen to the Obama Adminsitration and the Congressional Democrats (and more than a few Americans), you would think that high quality health care is a right. But as Rappaport points out,
As a matter of political theory, that may be a useful question, but as a matter of politics, the better question is, how can we make as much high quality health care available as possible at a reasonable cost?

But let's assume it is helpful to talk about health care being a right. So aren't Canada and England depriving their citicizens of rights when they force them to get on 6 month waiting lists for medical procedures?
That is a question we have to wrestle with in this country. If we view health care as a civil right, how can we square the notion that with governmental determination and formulation of health care as a right that the government itself may be the one inhibiting the right to receive high quality health care.

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