Health Care Is a Public Good; It's Time Dems Explain Why

'The health of each of us depends on the health of the rest of us'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2009 7:16 AM CDT
James Newman protests the health care reform plan supported by President Barack Obama during a rally in Atlanta last month.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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(Newser) – The Democrats are in danger of losing the health care reform battle over an argument "that a novice debater would have no trouble putting down," writes Thomas Frank for the Wall Street Journal. Reformers need to directly address the role of government in health care, Frank writes, and demolish the myth that "health insurance is a form of property, a matter of pure personal responsibility" earned by the hard work of individuals, and that those who don't have it "chose a toxic life of fast food and fast morals."

Arguments along the lines of "by what right do you ask me to pay for someone else's health care?" ignore the fact that people paying for health insurance are already paying for other people's health care, and that private insurance would have collapsed long ago if Medicare and Medicaid didn't exist. As for that toxic life, eating less sweets "will hardly help us if we're born with a condition that requires expensive treatment." To win the debate, Frank writes, the Democrats need to explain the simple fact that "the health of each of us depends on the health of the rest of us, as epidemics from the Middle Ages to this year's flu have demonstrated."