Former Surgeon General Koop Says Americans Have ‘No Constitutional Right’ to Health Care
"Americans have no constitutional right to health care," former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop said in a speech at the Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City last week. Deseret News reports that Koop pointed out that the Bill of Rights was intended to "protect people from government, rather than establishing a right to expect something from government." Responding to public polls that indicate that growing numbers of Americans believe health care is a "basic right," Koop said, "someone has to provide for that right. ... There would be a very heavy price tag." Koop said that Medicare is an "effective laboratory for highlighting the problems of mass entitlement." He said that while Americans have "the impression ... that Medicare covers the cost of care for the elderly at no cost to them," in fact, people have to pay into the program "for a long time before coming eligible." He added that even then, Medicare does not cover "many vital medical costs, including prescriptions." He said that Medicaid "is even less effective" at offering health care to those who need it. Koop said, "If there is a right to health care, someone has to provide it. That means higher premiums [or] higher taxes or both." He added, "Health care reform is a never-ending problem. Each solution becomes a problem" (Van Leer, Deseret News, 3/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.