There are about 47 million people living in the United States who do not have health insurance1. Many ask why the U. S. does not provide universal heath care when some other less wealthy industrialized countries do. The answer can be found by examining a number of factors including national spending priorities, affordability, desirability, and appropriate governmental level of responsibility.
Currently, the United States government is borrowing from foreign countries, the Social Security trust fund, private citizens and other sources to pay its bills. Since it is borrowing rather than paying with sufficient revenues from taxes, our children, grandchildren and posterity are left paying for the benefits we are receiving. The additional annual cost to the federal government of covering the uninsured is estimated to be over 100 billion dollars2. Posterity would be stuck with paying the additional 100 billion dollars unless we cut spending in many areas including National Security, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Other than by borrowing or drastically cutting spending, the only way to pay for the 100 billion additional dollars would be to increase taxes. In order for those who will not or can not buy health insurance to cover themselves, someone else would have to pay on their behalf. It is not possible for people to receive health care for nothing. Somebody pays.
From the perspective of most of the uninsured, universal health care is desirable. Some of the uninsured would not appreciate the government mandating coverage that they must obtain with limited finances. Many teachers would find universal health care desirable because students with poor vision, toothaches, and other health problems have difficulty learning. Some economists are concerned that if both food and health needs of the populace is met with government support; there would be inadequate incentive for the poor to improve their condition through employment, job training, and education.
Another question concerning universal health care concerns the appropriate level of government to address the issue. There are many who are advocates of states rights and believe that the health insurance issue should be resolved at the state level. The state of Massachusetts already has universal health care. There are, as well, many who believe that universal health care should be like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and addressed at the national level.
It is my personal belief that the question of health care should be addressed at the state government level with support from the federal government. I believe that the existing State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) should be supported to a greater extent than it currently is to help children who are suffering through no fault of their own.
I propose increasing the current annual level of federal government support for the SCHIP program by 10 billion dollars. The money would come from reductions in expenditures for the Afghanistan war and from closing tax loopholes with my graduated flat tax proposal.
It is primarily the responsibility of the people to obtain health care insurance for themselves and their children, whether through an employer or directly. I fully agree with the point of view expressed by John F. Kennedy when he said “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
I do not believe that the nation’s founders intended the words “to promote the general welfare”, which are found in the preamble to the constitution, to be a license for the federal government to establish a welfare state; but rather, an expectation that the federal government would assist the states and the people directly in providing for their own welfare.
1 — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Number of Uninsured Americans is at an All-Time High”, 8/29/2006. Web Site: http://www.cbpp.org/8-29-06health.htm
2 — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Health care in the United States”, Web Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States.