In 21st century America, access to affordable health care for all should be considered a fundamental freedom and a basic human right. Today, more than ever, access to health care is central to one’s attainment of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet tens of millions of Americans nationwide, including those with severe and chronic illness, have been deprived of health care strictly for socioeconomic reasons or other discriminatory factors — like race, gender, ethnicity and disability. This has been an American tragedy for far too long.
Is health care for all a personal infringement?
Thus, as we celebrate Independence Day, let’s not forget the most vulnerable among us: those living in poverty and despair without any form of health care to fall back on. For these downtrodden Americans, the enactment of President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act represents the very freedom necessary to live an independent and fruitful life. That is, freedom to see a doctor. Freedom to receive needed medical treatment. And freedom from the stranglehold of greed and corruption by big insurance companies.
America is still the greatest functioning democracy on the planet because of our Government’s ability to ensure equality and human rights for all of our nation’s 300-plus million people. These principles are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Yet some determined detractors of health care reform still claim that their individual rights are being trampled upon at the expense of another Government mandate they don’t want to pay for. But I’ll bet those vociferous folks who continue to castigate health care reform are part of the same crowd that already enjoys generous health benefits. Moreover, hospital care for the uninsured is reflected in inflated premiums for the rest of us. Thus, it’s a lose-lose scenerio.
Perhaps the opponents of health care reform should ask the swelling ranks of uninsured and under-insured Americans if they agree that health care is a personal infringement our nation can do without?
Independence Day Gift
The U.S. Government has always had an inherent responsibility to safeguard and protect the general welfare of its citizenry. Thus, we should applaud what naysayers have dubbed “Obamacare” and condemn politically calculated efforts to demonize the new law in general and the President in particular. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court deserves accolades for deciding to uphold this historic legislative achievement based upon Constitutional law and equal justice. What a wonderful gift, what a powerful message for every American to receive on Independence Day. Health care will no longer be a priviledge reserved only for the wealthy and upper middle class. Furthermore, another ideological and political divide among Americans will, hopefully, be laid to rest.
While public servants and many private sector employees are fortunate to have health care benefits, there are still approximately 20-30 million of less fortunate citizens among us. This group of Americans, many indigent and struggling to survive, has been in desperate need of medical care for far too long. In fact, you may know some of these people. They are your neighbors, friends, family, acquaintances, the unemployed and the under-employed. Yes, they are America.
A Fourth of July debt of gratitude
Thus, on Independence Day 2012, we owe a colossal debt of gratitude to the Supreme Court justices, especially Chief Justice Roberts, who voted to uphold President Obama’s landmark health care law because it’s in the best interest of our nation. The President has spoken and acted. The Congress has spoken and acted. The Supreme Court has spoken and acted. And, guess what? The three branches of the U.S. Government have spoken and acted in unison. How often does that happen?
Now it’s high time to honor our democratic principles and come together as one America in support of health care for all. To those who still fail to see and heed the wisdom and leadership of our President and Congress, buttressed by the highest court in the land, I say this: grow up, get over it, and embrace positive change for the greater good of America.
It has been said that facts are stubborn things. The fact is that affordable health care for all will soon be effective nationwide as a legal right and Constitutional reality after so many grueling decades of failed efforts for partisan political purposes.
Therefore, we should all thank Chief Justice Roberts, President Obama, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, some current members of Congress, and the community of health care reform advocates, all of whom have fought so hard for so long to reform our broken health care system. This is indeed good reason to celebrate our nation’s 236th birthday.
Happy Independence Day to all, especially to those in need of health care. The waiting game has finally ended. Justice has prevailed.
*** All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.