On Healthcare Reform, Fall 2009

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I often walk around my high school with a copy of the United States Constitution in my pocket. And every once in a while, I’ll take it out of my pocket and read that phrase, just to make sure that we’re living up to it. We live in a country that has relied profoundly upon these fifty-two words—a country that has been maintained for over two centuries by the resounding message of this passage. But the principles of the Constitution are like a house of cards, and when one part collapses, the entire house is in jeopardy. And these days, I worry that we have pulled out just too many cards.

For millions of Americans, a diagnosis can quickly become a death sentence. Health insurance companies have forgotten their real purpose: to help people when they get sick. Pre-existing conditions and health risks are the reasons why people try to get insured and go to doctors, yet this is precisely the reason why so many people are being denied converge. Over twelve million people in the past three years have been denied health insurance– because they were sick; yet these were the people who needed it the most. If an applicant chances to leave any condition off his or her mountain of health forms, many companies will deny any affordable coverage. Millions of women have not had mammograms and millions of adults have not been screened for colon cancer. Why? Because health insurance companies don’t cover preventive treatments. This is not justice; it is a mistreatment and manipulation of the American people.

Some argue that the American healthcare system should be left as it is because reform will cost too much money, or would rely too heavily upon taxpayer dollars. These are not the facts. The truth is that health reform, under President Obama, would be funded by the healthcare system that is already in place, using the same spending. In fact, the President’s program would eliminate wasteful spending and mistreatment of the system, decreasing the deficit, and decreasing the cost of a healthcare plan. It will not add to the deficit, and will be paid for without delay. Millions of people are losing their coverage at the time when they need it most. Leaving this system as it stands is not an option. This argument is illegitimate and baseless.

It is the responsibility of the United States government to provide its constituents with the opportunities granted to them by the Constitution. It is the government’s job to promote the general Welfare. Therefore, when the economy is troubled, it is the responsibility of the government to stabilize the various industries and stimulate the financial system. When our nation is attacked, it is the government’s responsibility to provide for the common defense, and protect us against those who seek to destroy us. And it is the government’s responsibility when millions of people cannot receive treatment because they are too old, too sick, unempowered, or simply unlucky, to secure the blessings of liberty, and insure us. In securing the blessings of liberty, it is the government’s duty to make sure that health insurance companies cannot drop your insurance because you get sick, or put a limit on how much care you can receive. And a strong, genuine public health insurance option to cover all Americans who cannot afford it themselves is a blessing of liberty.

Healthcare reform in 2009 is a Constitutional mandate.  The Constitution was signed by men who believed in big government and men who believed in limited government. But each individual who signed the Constitution in 1787 believed that the government, whatever its size, should secure the Blessings of Liberty. Healthcare reform, ethical policies, and a public option are the blessings of liberty. The Constitution is an ever-living document, and it is the duty of our country’s leadership to make sure that it serves its purpose in the 21st century.