One of the best questions from the debate last night was whether health care is a right or a responsibility. This is where Barack Obama clearly differentiated himself from John McCain. John McCain is not comfortable with the whole idea of entitlements. He thinks Social Security is a disgrace. He would like to cut way back on Medicare and Medicaid. And he has no interest in creating a rational system for health insurance for the rest of us. He'll just give everyone another $5000 tax cut and then tell us we're all on our own for obtaining health insurance. So he refused to recognize that health care is a right, and wants to keep the government out of the health insurance business, even though he has benefited from government-sponsored health insurance his entire life.
To say that health insurance is a right, as Barack Obama had no hesitation in doing, is not to say that we all don't have to pay for it. But it is a recognition that we all have to pay for it collectively in a way that adequately takes care of everyone in this society. In other words, once health care is recognized as a right, then society collectively has to assume responsibility for paying for it, and insurance companies can spend less time and money avoiding the responsibility of paying for coverage. We have already accepted this collective responsibility for seniors, for poor people, and for veterans. Now we have to replace the crazy patchwork system for the rest of us with universal coverage.