Daryl Cagle

States’ Rites

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was in essence an act of kindness in a very cruel and forbidding landscape for everyone trying to access medical care. President Obama, through his own life experience and those whose stories were told as he campaigned for the presidency, made affordable health care a priority as it touched a chord of compassion in his life song.

We have now witnessed the national health care rollout on October 1 suffer from computer glitches, lawsuits, and, for some, broken promises that have made this law play “off key.” For those who expected a flawless performance from day one, there has indeed been disappointment. And politicians continue to exploit the term “ObamaCare” as shallow currency to buy votes, whether the voter is for or against the law. The intrinsic historical storyline occurring now cannot be ignored

Rite of passage” is often used to describe a child maturing to an adult, accepting the responsibilities of marriage and having children, and becoming more selfless in assuming the role as a provider for his or her family. For the maturing adult, the idea is not just to take care of one’s self but to be aware of other’s needs as well.

The Affordable Care Act asks people from all walks of life, all political persuasions, religious and nonreligious alike, to become more socially responsible, even if that means sharing the burden so someone else has a chance to afford health insurance. Society benefits when more of its citizens can lead a healthy productive life.

For some, however, an old argument pervades their judgment and limits their ability to show compassion to those who have the greatest need. This country has long debated states’ rights vs. the federal government: the concept that individual states should have the right to decide what is best for its people (despite strong evidence to the contrary and a hubris that harms its population).

This was never more evident than the Civil War this country fought in the 19th century: a war, in one of its many dimensions, that pitted states in the South embracing slavery against the North’s idea of human rights. Today (and perhaps not coincidentally), the first U.S. black president has made a law to help people who cannot obtain medical insurance, to treat all citizens of the United States for physical and mental illness, and to reduce suffering and death as necessary outcomes. Nevertheless, some state governors and legislatures dissolved into ideological bodies of obstruction and refused to recognize this rite of passage and nurture all their people. They seem incapable of reaching for the higher branch of humanism that recognizes that health care is a basic human right; they settle for the low-hanging fruit of political opportunism.

The Republicans and the Tea Party have decided to invoke states’ rights to oppose the health-care law. But in their haste to reach this shortsighted conclusion, they neglect to mention that states do not have the right to impede the rite of progress. If that were the case, a state could claim that penicillin is but moldy bread and prohibit its sale, denying a life-saving antibiotic.

As these partisans battle over how much compassion a government should offer its people and whether it’s states or the federal government who decide, a far more important battle rages. It is the daily personal battle that those who are ill or disabled must fight for a better quality of life and ultimately survival. The rite of passage to a healthy nation is a basic human right for the ill and disabled, and it must always trump the desire of any state to remain dogmatically resistant to the well-being of every U.S. citizen.

Jeffrey R. Moualim lives in Santa Ynez. He is treasurer of the Committee of Ten Thousand, a national grassroots advocacy organization for people with hemophilia, HIV, and HCV, based in Washington, D.C., and Santa Barbara.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Yes, it was an act of kindness - unfortunately that is a commodity that is ridiculed in Washington, unless it serves briefly as a tool to bash the original act of kindness.

The small percentage who are losing their insurance, are doing so because they were sold junk policies that did not meet the standards of the ACA. They would be better off with new ACA policies.

However, the loud noise machine of negative nonsense is trying very hard to leave people out on their own with no care - as before.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
November 14, 2013 at 12:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The article comes off ultimately as a race-baiting diatribe.

When you have a country of 300 million people it's hard to administer anything from a federal level. While "States Rights" conjures up images of of the racist policies of Strom Thurmond and the other Good 'Ol Boys who made life a living hell for Blacks, today's progressives have become so reflexive because of this that they don't see the point of individual states having the power to at least partially chart their course.

The irony is that socialized medicine may only be able to work on a state, or even more broken down level.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 14, 2013 at 4:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

the rollout will play out and slowly ACA will work out, and sure, some of the younger and healthier will pay more for the older and the more ill.
When the writer states "As these partisans battle over how much compassion a government should offer its people" -- I see it rather differently. Along with the individual citizen's right to bear arms, have a free trial by jury, express his/her opinions in the free press, and vote in the democracy -- let's include a human right to adequate health care. This may not be offering compassion to those suffering ill health, but it does promise assistance in getting good medical care...fore the babies, for the young, for the aging, all of them. Just a basic right.
Can't see your "race-baiting diatribe" at all, Bill?? How do you support that dramatic assertion?? Don't you understand that around 25 or so states aren't helping with the federal ACA rollout, so States Rights are being exercised by those state governments and they're opting out. OK (although I disagree with them). What's race-baiting about this? you aren't making sense.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
November 14, 2013 at 5:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

When Obama caved into the insurance companies he should have known they would screw him over. They did.

ObamaCare is a nice idea but will only work as a single-payer system IMO.

Some people say it's a step in the right direction, but Obamacare institutionalizes using insurance companies.

Keeping insurance companies in the loop just rearranged the deck chairs in a sinking ship.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
November 14, 2013 at 10:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Although I am in favor of the ACA, in theory at least, whiny and self-righteous screeds such as this could push me in the other direction.
I find his mention of race as a factor in the President's motives only slightly less offensive than the mention of same made here by the resident right wing loon a week or so ago.

zappa (anonymous profile)
November 14, 2013 at 10:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Racism? Rights for slaves was just as important as rights for women. The fact that slaves were of a different race (not really genetically) does not mean that talking about the bid to end slavery introduces racism into the article. The subject was the "rights" of citizens.

I agree that compassion is an important factor in any civilization. I find the beer parties by the Koch brothers to try to dissuade youngsters from getting health insurance, one of the most ridiculous and despicable things I have ever seen. It is entirely about money and not a bit about compassion. How would a youngster, hurt in an automobile accident, pay for any medical expenses? Bake sales? Being covered by insurance is the best way to have coverage in any catastrophic event - and it is responsible - and it is on your own (with a little help) - and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. How could the libertarian-promoting Kochs not see that?

Ridiculous that the ACA is based on a Heritage Foundation proposal. Hypocritical.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
November 14, 2013 at 12:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

realitycheck88 (anonymous profile)
November 14, 2013 at 2:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My "dramatic assertion" is based on my perception (perhaps I perceive in error) that the article is about Obama's health plan but goes off into the issue of the civil war and the fact that he's black--which I do not see as relevant to the discussion at hand.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 15, 2013 at 7:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The dig at Christianity in the cartoon didn't get past me either, but I won't waste my time writing a long self-loathing screed about how those of us who believe in God are not all racists, Republicans, or averse to the relevence of empricism.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 15, 2013 at 7:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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