Today, my local newspaper posted an editorial about why we should delay health care reform for at least another year. Here is my response:
To the Editor:
The four pillars of medical ethics are beneficence (provide good care), non-maleficence (do no harm), respect for autonomy and social justice. While the first two seem to get a lot of attention in medical schools and the press, the last two, and particularly the pillar of social justice, are rarely mentioned. Estimates are that each year nearly 20,000 Americans die from not being able to have access to health care. Health care costs are the number one cause for personal bankruptcy and are therefore the most common factor in keeping people in poverty. Every passing day pushes more citizens into financial crises and forces more to silently but tragically die an unnecessary death.
Every passing day also allows those who reap financial treasure through the status quo to continue to pump fear and doubt into anyone who will listen. Their tactic, which has worked quite well over the past five decades of inaction, seems to be working again as support for health care reform has started to wane even though no alternative legislation has been suggested. The longer health care reform is put off, the less likely it will be to pass.
So why rush to push reform through? We cannot and should not continue to wait for the perfect piece of healthcare legislation to magically appear when people are dying. Waiting turns our back on the pillar of social justice and is therefore simply unethical.