Noah Peterson: Right to health care is a myth

Protestors drop to the floor outside Congressman Steve Knight's office on Feb. 23 after they were unable to meet with anyone from his office about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“Health care is a right, not a privilege.”

This phrase amassed a substantial following for its speaker and became a litmus test for Democratic candidates across the nation. Now we’re hearing it in the Santa Clarita Valley.

All three challengers to incumbent Steve Knight’s congressional seat have made Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care part of their platforms. One even has the pithy phrase “Health care is a right, not a privilege,” featured on his website.
Nice maxim, but it’s a lie.

Let’s ignore for a second the problems with Medicare. Let’s ignore how it underpays doctors so significantly that one in five physicians won’t even accept new Medicare patients. Let’s ignore how its complex web of codes makes it susceptible to error, waste and fraud.

And let’s ignore how it will create $36.8 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years. For the time being, let’s put all that aside.

Let’s also ignore our own attempt at single-payer health care with our veterans and the disaster that’s been (see ).

Or how a Medicare-for-all system would add $32 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years (figure is from Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center, a liberal think tank), all the while decreasing the quality of care and increasing wait times.

Forget all that. Right now, let’s focus on the myth Bernie Sanders sold his followers: “Health care is a human right.”

Contrary to Sanders’ sentiment, health care is a commodity, not a right. It’s a good and service provided by a third party.

That’s a fact. You have no right to demand health care. You cannot force someone to go to medical school, train to become a doctor, and provide you with medical care. You don’t have a right to someone’s labor.

Calling it a right sounds nice, but it just isn’t true. Necessity does not create rights. No matter how much I need food, I do not have the right to rob the local grocery store to get it. I am not entitled to the government giving me sustenance, despite my need. People can recognize my need and offer charity to fund it, but that does not change the basic principle that rights come from autonomy, not necessity.

Dan McLaughlin of “National Review” breaks the health-care issue down into three things people desire: universality, affordability, and quality. But here’s the catch: you can only pick two.

As conservative pundit Ben Shapiro points out, “If you want universality and affordability, it’s going to be bad quality. That’s nationalized health care. If you want universality and quality, then you have to bankrupt the country and spend an inordinate amount of money on your health-care system.

“If you want what I want, which is affordability and quality, then you have open competition but it means that some people are going to have to rely on a community of people around them but not through government.”

If you want affordability and quality, you must treat health care as a commodity. When you do, you’ll see increases in three important areas: profit incentive, freedom of labor, and competition. The government destroys all three of these in the health-care industry. Remove the government, and you restore all three. The result is cheaper and better health care.

If we all acknowledged that health care is a commodity, not a right, maybe we could develop bipartisan solutions to the problem. Steve Knight is the only candidate for California’s 25th Congressional District with the vision to see this.

The other three candidates – all Democrats – are still buying the Sanders snake oil. If they have their way, and we go to a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system, America might become terminally ill.

Noah Peterson is a Stevenson Ranch resident.


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