Is Health Care a Public Good?

I have a staunchly Republican friend in Rochester with whom I used to argue politics all the time. She maintained that nobody is entitled to health care unless the person can pay for it. I would counter by asking her how she feels about eating in a restaurant where busboys with untreated TB are coughing on her dinner plate?

That was my way of pointing out that we all benefit when people we come in contact with every day have health care. Health care, in that understanding, is a public good.

Republicans in general have a punitive attitude toward the poor. Seema Verma, the highly ideological head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, firmly believes that if people have to work for their benefits, they will move up the economic ladder and no longer need them. She is supportive of Arkansas putting into place work requirements for Medicaid recipients, which the people are required to report work hours online on penalty of being thrown out of the program.

The fact that many poor people in Arkansas have no access to computers and don’t know how to use one if provided in a place like a Medicaid office doesn’t seem to matter. To date, some 4300 people have lost their benefits for the rest of the year for failure to report.

Verma is enthusiastic, and thinks things are going swimmingly. That they are, if the real purpose is to force people off the rolls.

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