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"Right" you aren't: "my 'right' to 'health care' diminishes your right to liberty--such as your right to use your own earnings to buy a medical service you need to preserve your own life."

The idea that health care is a right might sound kind and compassionate but, in reality, it is self-serving to those who would profit from Big Government in medicine--either by winning elections or reaping the financial benefits of the massive programs it demands.

The American Medical Association considered Resolution 007--to decide whether health care is a human right--at its 2017 annual meeting. Unlike the unalienable rights listed in our Declaration of Independence, a right to health care is not self-evident. The rights to life, liberty, and property ownership (or "pursuit of happiness") are endowed by our Creator--not the AMA or the government. These rights belong equally to all. My right to liberty does not diminish yours.

Health care is not like that. Speaking against the resolution, AMA delegate Ralph Kristeller of New Jersey correctly asserted that health care is a responsibility of each individual. People must develop good health habits of diet, exercise, staying clear of substances that harm the mind and body, and avoiding risky behavior. Getting screened for deadly diseases also is the responsibility of the person who would gain most by early detection--the patient. Seeking professional counsel--and following the advice--is the patient's responsibility as well.

Calling health care a human right clearly is misleading. It generally is taken to mean medical services and payment for these services.

Before Big Government entered the medical arena in the U.S., there were many independent physicians in every town. In the 1950s, an office visit was $10, and the doctor earned a good living. When a child became ill, parents knew where to go for help, and payment was a secondary consideration. Many doctors waited for payment or, knowing the family, gave the services for free. Hospitals were local institutions, established by the town fathers. They were operated and staffed by well-trained doctors and nurses who took part in helping the medical schools train the next generation of professionals. Charity fundraisers and robust volunteer services kept the hospitals places where kindness was the rule. Medical care was local, and the Federal government had no role.

In 1965, with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, the huge infusion of taxpayer dollars caused an explosion in the cost of hospitalizations, and the commoditization of medical services ensued. MBAs instead of retired physicians took over the administration of hospitals, and today they command seven-figure salaries. Electronic medical records became a vehicle for exploiting the system as well as for attempts to control rampant fraud. Today, big hospital conglomerates are buying up independent medical practices to harness the revenue and thus control what the doctors do for their patients.

Once a service, paid for by somebody else, is declared a "right," it immediately becomes obvious that it cannot be an unlimited right, but only a claim on those services deemed appropriate by authorities or planners--nor is everyone equal. Everything that is given to some first must be taken from someone else. My "right" to "health care" diminishes your right to liberty--such as your right to use your own earnings to buy a medical service you need to preserve your own life.

Medical services may be necessary for those who are ill, but food, clothing, and shelter are necessary for all. If these were declared to be rights, it would mean everyone provide food, clothing, and shelter for every American: socialism in every part of the economy. How much food? How lavish a wardrobe? How big a house?--and how much medical service can a citizen demand from others? Constant conflict and eventual shortages and impoverishment are guaranteed.

Instead of discussing how we best can serve those who cannot pay for their own medical care, we increasingly are vilifying medical professionals who do not provide what the government prescribes. A better resolution for the AMA would be to educate the public about the fact that health care is first and foremost an individual responsibility, and to expose the disastrous ramifications of declaring it to be a right.

Alieta Eck, former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Tucson, Ariz., serves on the board of Christian Care Medi-Share, Melbourne, Fla., a faith-based medical cost-sharing ministry. She is in private practice with her husband, with whom she founded Zarephath Health Center, Somerset, N.J., a nongovernment free clinic for the poor and uninsured that cares for about 300 patients per month utilizing the donated services of volunteer physicians and nurses.
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Title Annotation:Medicine & Health
Author:Eck, Alieta
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2017
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