Universal Health Care: An Asinine Idea?

In today’s Sunday Edition of the Register Guard “Letters to the Editor,” Mr. Oral Robbins of Eugene, Oregon writes,

It is amusing to read some of the stuff that these ideological, philosophical people write — at least it is to this stupid old codger, who has lived through most of what they write about.

Fair enough.  Mr. Robbins, who states he is 77 years old, has seen a lot of history and has a lifetime of experiences from which he can reflect on.  He goes on to say “…we approve a project of public need that a private enterprise cannot supply, then by consent of the electorate we supply the funds needed.”  Okay, so he’s not quite the “stupid old codger” he claims.  Give him a point for literary irony.

His next statement, however, is chilling:

The idea of universal health care is one of the most asinine ideas being promoted by those in political power today, that and the bailing out of those individuals who borrowed money to purchase items they never had any intention of ever paying for.

As a hospital chaplain, I wish it were possible for all the Mr. Robbins in the country to spend one day with me and meet his neighbors who do not have health insurance, to hear their stories of how that  lack has in countless ways created barriers or has denied them their right to live as healthy, productive, hard-working, taxpaying Americans. It’s not amusing.

Mr. Robbins makes no differentiation between the Economic Stimulus programs and the need for universal health care.  In his mind it is all “tax and spend.”  I deliberately reversed the order in which he stated his objection.  His equation of the two “ideas” is a huge problem, not only because millions of Americans believe exactly the same way, but because as an issue of human, and dare we say constitutional rights, I assert the two are distinct.

Mr. Robbins, through the tunnel vision of his own ideological philosophy, fails to realize that he contradicts himself with regard to universal health care.  The fact is, private enterprise cannot and has never been able to supply the public need for medical insurance.  And he is probably a perfect example.  I am certain that, being retired and at age seventy-seven years, he is on Medicare, America’s universal health care plan for seniors and the disabled.  Without it, he and his wife would not be able to afford private health insurance.  To deny him and his wife that care would be truly asinine.

The benefit of universal health care in the modern era would have produced a very different America: Trillions of dollars in medical debts would have been avoided.  Trillions of dollars in uncompensated care by hospitals would have been avoided.  Trillions of dollars in unnecessary and wasteful medical expenses created by the broken health care system would have been avoided.  Trillions of dollars of lost productivity to private enterprise companies would have been avoided.  Trillions of dollars of wages would have been created and sustained.  Trillions of dollars for appropriate public state and federal projects would have been paid through the taxes of a healthy America.

I wish it were possible for Mr. Robbins to spend just one day with me talking to his neighbors who have no health insurance.

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