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Healthcare is a Civil Right

On Thursday, June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance requirement which is one of the cornerstones of President Barack Obama's historic healthcare overhaul, derisively called by its opponents "Obama Care" (in the same Orwellian fashion that anti-civil and consumer rights interests "label," for PR purposes, anything they want to denigrate).

This decision means that the huge overhaul to the healthcare system, which is still only partially in effect, will pick up momentum over the next several years. This will fundamentally affect how millions of Americans pay for and receive medical care. The conservative attack on the plan had long been that Congress exceeded its constitutional powers by "requiring" individual Americans to have health insurance.

As I always do (and as you should always do) when a conservative bloc attacks anything that at least on the surface looks like it's going to guarantee rights and fundamental liberties to large numbers of people, I ask myself why the right wing would oppose something so obviously and fundamentally beneficial to so many.

Of course, the answer is simple. Anything that "affects" business in any way irritates right wingers, even if the effect is minimal and even if the effect is beneficial to the country as a whole and/or to significant portions of its citizenry (and thus, in the long term, to our economy).

As a Civil Rights and Employment Rights Attorney, I'm certainly successful enough in my practice to afford my own healthcare for myself and my family. It's good, solid coverage, too.

Yet even being able to obtain the dubious benefits of an "HMO" style healthcare plan is better than nothing. Imagine the millions of Americans living at the economic margin of society who don't even have the ability to go to a family practitioner to manage conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.? Even if you're not a compassionate person (i.e. a neo-conservative), try to approach it from that perspective.

Put plainly, ask yourself if it's "good business" to allow millions of people who would otherwise be productive workers if their health problems were managed to become unproductive workers because they become disabled by virtue of the fact that their health concerns aren't managed? Does it make sense to allow people who could be contributing to the tax base, producing goods or services, and potentially supervising and enabling the employment of others, to go without health insurance, so that they can't work because they either become disabled young or die young? If they become disabled young, they stop producing and start benefiting from public assistance. If they die, their families may become economically unviable and may need to go on public assistance as well.

Forget compassion. Is that good business?

The fact that a Supreme Court decision was even necessary is a black mark on the gradually widening gap between the extreme right wing and everyone else.

As a Civil Rights and an Employment Rights Attorney, as a business owner, and as a human being and an American citizen who believes in the American dream and in the American idea, I applaud this decision.

Good Job, Supreme Court (or at least most of you). Another pothole plugged on the journey to justice.

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