Sunday Reflections: Who needs healthcare?
In case you haven’t heard, this week the Senate Republicans released their ‘healthcare’ bill. I’m not here to analyze the changes this would make to our current healthcare system, but there is a good brief analysis here. I am here to talk about the impact this might have on our lives and the lives of our patrons.
To be honest, my views on healthcare were radically changed when I watched my best friend slowly die from cancer. Up until that point, I had taken health care for granted. I was privileged to grow up in a family where one of my parents worked for a company that provided the highest level of healthcare coverage (General Electric.) Having all of my wisdom teeth extracted cost my family $4. But watching Shannon fight and resist her eventual death caused me to reconsider all of my assumptions. What wouldn’t I be willing to sacrifice for the 18 extra months we had with her following her diagnosis? And what wasn’t she willing to do to have that extra time with her family, which included two internationally adopted sons with special needs? I remember watching her have a blood transfusion and going from deathly pale to her normal pink skin tone. I remember how uncharacteristically assertive I was when her husband was out of town and she called me to come advocate for her in the emergency room.
And still, her melanoma killed her. Was she not worth those extra 18 months? What about children born with life threatening conditions. For a political party to advocate against abortion on the pretense of being ‘pro-life’ but then refuse to care for the most vulnerable amongst us – how is that compassion? Refusing care even to those who have ‘brought it upon themselves’ (i.e.. drug addicts, etc.) ignores the responsibility we hold for generations of oppression and neglect.
And no, we cannot depend upon the ‘better natures’ of our society to correct these inequities on their own. One only need look at the statistics on charitable giving to see that most of it comes from those least able to afford it. If those who are ‘obscenely rich’ were willing to donate the amounts necessary to provide healthcare to everyone, they would have already made the effort to provide a livable wage to all of those under their employ. And so it becomes the responsibility of the government to enforce a basic level of care to ensure the health and livelihood of its citizens.
To put it pragmatically, a healthy and well educated citizenry contributes to the overall gross domestic product of a country. Why is this so difficult for some to understand?
Filed under: Sunday Reflections
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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