Health Care Is a Right, But That Gets Sanders Only So Far, by James C. Capretta

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*Image: Portrait of Dr. Samuel Gross (The Gross Clinic) by Thomas Eakins, 1875 [Philadelphia Museum of Art]

By James C. Capretta, The Catholic Thing, July 20, 2019

Note: As the 2020 presidential elections approach, TCT will be running some analyses, based on Catholic social doctrine, of various political proposals. As a non-profit organization, we cannot and will not endorse or reject any candidate. But we can and will comment on emerging ideas that may shape our future. We are fortunate to be able to begin today with some commentary by health-care expert James C. Capretta. – Robert Royal

James C. CaprettaSenator Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic party’s presidential nomination for the second time, repeats often what has become his signature applause line: “Health care is a right and not a privilege.” This sentiment resonates with many voters who will cast ballots in the upcoming Democratic primaries.

It is also consistent with Catholic social teaching. The Church has consistently reaffirmed the right to healthcare in the era of modern medicine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that: “the political community has a duty to ensure . . . in keeping with the country’s institutions . . . the right to medical care.”

Recognition of this human right is logical and consistent with a proper understanding of the role of the state in promoting the common good. A primary responsibility of properly ordered governance is to foster the conditions that allow for the protection and development of the family and its members. Without medical care, some people cannot fulfill their responsibilities to members of their families or make use of the full range of talents that would contribute to the well-being of the broader community.  ….