Is health care a right?

Larry Sutton Contributing columnist

October 6, 2013

October 1, 2013 was a great day for America, a watershed moment in American history, a day that will go down in history as the day the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was rolled out. This new health care reform law will allow uninsured Americans an opportunity to purchase health insurance coverage. And for the uninsured Americans who might have trouble affording a policy, they will receive government subsidies (tax credits) to assist them, thereby reducing the cost of their premiums.

Many of America’s uninsured are working families with low or moderate incomes who form a large segment of the backbone of this country and who deserve better. In the great state of North Carolina, the Republican-controlled government revisited the part of the Affordable Care Act that provided for the expansion of Medicaid, denying many uninsured North Carolinians health care coverage. Further, about 500,000 North Carolinians, with many in Sampson County, will go without needed care. Many of these citizens will remain without coverage, suffering more serious problems and higher mortality rates as most are too poor to afford their own insurance premiums. They deserve better.

For the uninsured Americans who do seek care, high medical bills become an additional burden, causing more distress as they try to make ends meet. They deserve better. As Sampson is among the least healthy counties, I encourage the county heath care stakeholders to not follow our state’s “hands-off policy” on the new health law. We need to do more outreach and education in our efforts to inform our citizens about the new health care law. Our county residents also deserve better.

Further, we need to be concerned about the distance Congressman Mike McIntyre has put between himself and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as he has voted repeatedly to defund the new health care law.

With the passage of President Obama’s signature health care policy, a dream that was born decades ago with President Theodore Roosevelt has come to fruition. Many believe that this dream of affordable health care for all Americans is taking us in the right direction, declaring that health care is a right and not a privilege.

Over the next six months, uninsured Americans can sign up for heath care coverage and be able to receive many basic services including having access to annual checkups and screenings and other preventive care which can help us stay healthy, thus saving money.

Surely, there will be opposition to any new complex social policy issue and many Americans are asking whatever happened to a rational conversation about health care in America. Those who are calling for defunding of “Obamacare” seem to belong to the “mindless extremism” led by the conservative Tea Party group. Lastly, many Americans believe that this uproar over the new health care law is actually an intense dislike for the president and anything that is associated with him.

Health care history has been made, and it behooves all of us to work together to make this complex social policy a successful endeavor. We all need some measurable standard of health care, for living without health insurance is a risk no one should have to take.