Re birth control flap: health care for all should be a right

By Johnathon Ross, M.D.
Letters, The Toledo Blade, Feb. 13, 2012

Catholic employers would hurt themselves if they don't offer health insurance, because there is competition for the best employees. However, they can act on their conscience and have nothing to do with health insurance except to pay into the exchange created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The act will cover 15 million more Americans; 50,000 die yearly because of lack of insurance coverage. No one knows the added total suffering and disability.

My Catholic employer pays me to care for the poor and uninsured. Every day I see a near miss. Several times yearly, I see deaths because of lack of health insurance.

Here lies the real, difficult moral choice. A thousand points of light -- employer-based coverage -- do not make a searchlight. They make a blur. Our government should, like the mirrors in a searchlight, focus the moral fiber of the nation.

The nation's failure to provide health care to everyone is a stain on our moral character that far exceeds covering contraceptive services. The flawed Affordable Care Act attempts to cleanse this stain. At least and at last, we are trying.

As a physician, I would prescribe an improved Medicare for all. It would cover everyone without employers in the middle and save $400 billion yearly in administrative costs, enough to cover all the uninsured and improve coverage for the rest of us.

The contraception debate misses a more important moral crisis. We need a health care system with everybody in and nobody out. Health care should be a right of citizenship in the richest country on Earth.

Dr. Johnathon Ross resides in Toledo, Ohio.