Opinion: A Constitutional Right To Health Care

In an op-ed for The Record (Bergen Co., New Jersey), Seton Hall professor and policy wonk Frank Pasquale provides sound argument for a constitutional right to health care. Supposing that the Supreme Court eventually sides with ACA opponents and rules that the government has no right to order citizens to purchase health insurance of pay a fine, due to the financial damage inflicted by such expenses, Pasquale asks, “Why can’t there be a parallel monetary right not to be bankrupted by health care costs?” Legal precedents and and our nation’s founding texts lead him to this graceful conclusion:

For many Americans in these tough economic times, rights to education, housing, health care and food are a lot more meaningful than the right to be free of an insurance mandate.

We the people can locate these rights in a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence rich with grand and sweeping language. If those who hate health reform can use our nation’s founding texts to undermine the ACA, those who care about meeting basic human needs need to gear up to use them to do quite a bit more.

America can become the City upon a Hill envisioned by John Winthrop in his 1630 sermon “A Model of Christian Charity.” We can preserve a baseline of education, housing, health care and food for all by resisting the race-to-the-bottom style of globalization that’s hollowed out our economy.

We can locate these ideals in a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence that address actual conditions of life, not just abstract ideals. A government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” should do no less.

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